Drawing renewed attention to the economy, President Barack Obama will return this week to an Illinois college where he once spelled out a vision for an expanded and strengthened middle class as a freshman U.S. senator, long before the Great Recession would test his presidency.As previewed Monday, Obama's speech isn't expected to be much different than speech he's given in the past: calls for more green energy, "investment," the importance of the middle class, rich paying their fair share, etc. After Knox, Obama will move onto Missouri and Florida to deliver a similar message. The most interesting thing to look for will be how he sells Obamacare as part of an overall better economy. Last week when he gave a speech on the topic of healthcare, the Associated Press fact checker called Obama out again for exaggerating the benefits of his signature healthcare legislation. The other big issue to watch is how Obama will handle his approach to Republicans who refuse to vote for an increase in the debt ceiling without the defunding of Obamacare in return. Congress has just a few weeks to get a deal don.e
The address Wednesday at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., will be the first in a new series of economic speeches that White House aides say Obama intends to deliver over the next several weeks ahead of key budget deadlines in the fall. A new fiscal year begins in October, and the government will soon hit its borrowing limit.
The speech comes just a week before Congress is scheduled to leave for its month long August recess and is designed to build public pressure on lawmakers in hopes of averting the showdowns over taxes and spending that have characterized past budget debates.
But is today's speech really even about the economy? Probably not. RealClearPolitics points out that Obama is most likely starting to think more about his legacy and how he will be viewed in history. Speeches are good for leaving that mark, after all, sifting through old unemployment data isn't as exciting.
The enormous White House wind-up for an economic speech today that aides say will be long on vision and short on news suggests Obama is beginning to work on another kind of agenda -- speaking to the history books. When the president began thinking it was time to remind Americans about the economy’s condition when he took office and its comparative stability now, the classroom review may have been conceived for his own final exam after he leaves office.
Obama's speech is at 12:55 et and will be streamed live at WhiteHouse.gov.