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Obama reasserts commitment to helping middle class

By Anne Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 4, 2010; 4:47 PM

Saying that his policies have "stopped the bleeding" in the job market, President Obama called Saturday on the country to "recommit" to helping the middle class.

"This Labor Day, we are reminded that we didn't become the most prosperous country in the world by rewarding greed and recklessness. We did it by rewarding hard work and responsibility. We did it by recognizing that we rise or we fall together as one nation - one people - all of us vested in one another," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.

Heading into a week of major economic events, the president is attempting to walk a familiar fine line between sounding optimistic and realistic, striking a forward-looking tone even as he recounts reasons why the U.S. economy has sagged for so long.

"I don't have to tell you that this is a very tough time for our country," Obama began his address, then claimed credit for having "stopped the bleeding" in the job market that he inherited upon taking office.

Obama performed the same balancing act Friday, embracing as "positive news" new jobless figures that he said were also "not nearly good enough."

Under mounting pressure from Democratic candidates to project a more forceful image on the central issue of the midterm campaigns, Obama will unveil proposals during a trip Wednesday to Cleveland. The White House noted that the location - a Democratic stronghold in a swing state - is where House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) delivered an economic speech weeks earlier.

"Speaking in the city where Minority Leader Boehner recently detailed the Republican economic agenda, the President will lay out the choice between his ideas and the failed policies and failed philosophy that led us into this mess," White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer wrote in a blog post. He said Obama will "discuss some targeted proposals to keep the economy growing including extending tax cuts for the middle class, and investing in the areas of our economy where the potential for job growth is greatest."

Obama will travel Monday to Milwaukee for a Labor Day event, and he will conduct a news conference Friday at the White House - events designed to demonstrate his recommitment to the economy. But it is unlikely that he will have an announcement on an important subject: who will head the new Consumer Protection Bureau created by the financial regulatory bill he signed into law this summer.

Aides said it is possible he could fill another vacancy, the helm of the Council of Economic Advisers, which Christina Romer departed Friday.

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