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'Washington has taken its eye off the ball,' Obama says

President Obama reiterated his economic message in his weekly address Saturday, calling on Congress to focus on opportunities for the middle class.


"If we don’t make the investments necessary to make America a magnet for good jobs – in education, and manufacturing, and research, and our transportation and information networks – we might as well hit the 'pause' button while the rest of the world forges ahead in a global economy," Obama said.

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He echoed the same themes from his speech earlier this week in Illinois, again waving off recent scandals and criticizing Republicans for an agenda he called unproductive.

"Over the past couple of years in particular, Washington has taken its eye off the ball," Obama said. "An endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals shift focus from what needs to be done."

Obama's speech this week was billed as a major economic address, though the specific policy ideas Obama outlined were generally proposals he has already endorsed.

Obama said Saturday he is happy to work with Republicans on practical solutions, but accused the GOP of being unwilling to cooperate with him.

"I know there are members of both parties who understand what’s at stake, and I’m open to ideas from across the political spectrum, as long as they meet the test of strengthening the prospects of hard-working families," Obama said.

Obama's renewed focus on the economy comes as House Republicans are set to hold their 40th vote to undermine his signature healthcare law, and amid a push by conservatives to shut down the federal government if a must-pass spending bill does not defund the healthcare law.

"Repealing Obamacare, gutting critical investments in our future, threatening to default on the bills this country has already racked up, or shutting down the government just because I’m for keeping it open – none of those thing add up to an economic plan," he said. "None of that will take this country where it needs to go."

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