Obama's back-to-basics speech: Economy is better than you think

President Obama aims to highlight the strides the economy has made in a Chicago speech Thursday. It could be a crucial Election 2014 message.

Paul Beaty/AP
President Obama (c.) jokes with Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson (r.), while Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) of Indiana (l.) watches after the president arrived at the Gary/Chicago International Airport in Gary, Ind., on Wednesday. He then took Marine One to downtown Chicago.

Just over a month until Election Day, President Obama is returning to a theme he hoped to make a centerpiece of the midterm campaign: the economy.

Multiple crises overseas, the resignation of the Secret Service’s director after eye-popping threats to presidential safety, and the first case of Ebola in the United States have all kept Mr. Obama in a reactive mode. But in a speech Thursday at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., the president will go on the offensive and highlight the strides the economy has made since the near-economic collapse he inherited in 2009. He will also make another pitch for a hike in the minimum wage and measures intended to boost job creation.

“You’ll hear the president talk about this progress, while acknowledging that too many Americans still don’t feel enough of the benefits of our recovery in their everyday lives,” says White House press secretary Josh Earnest.  

“To make sure these gains are felt more broadly, he’ll lay out the common-sense steps our country should take to raise wages for hard-working Americans, continue to create jobs, and grow our economy.”

Obama's speech comes on the same day as two indications the labor market continuing to strengthen. On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell by 8,000 to 287,000 last week – the lowest level seen in more than eight years. And the number of planned layoffs by U.S. employers fell to a 14-year low in September, according to a report released Thursday by Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

An Associated Press-GfK poll, released Wednesday, found that 9 in 10 likely American voters say the economy is either “extremely or “very important.” Only 38 percent of likely voters call the economy “good,” and 34 percent expect it to improve in the coming year.

Democrats appear perilously close to losing control of the Senate, and efforts to improve the public’s perception of the economy could be crucial. Obama has also helped his party raise tens of millions of dollars for the midterms. On Thursday morning, before his speech at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, the president will appear at a private fundraiser for Gov. Pat Quinn (D) of Illinois. Governor Quinn has struggled in the polls, but his numbers have improved of late.

Obama arrived in his hometown of Chicago on Wednesday evening, and headed straight to dinner at the trendy RPM steakhouse with senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, longtime friend Marty Nesbitt, and other Chicago friends. Mr. Nesbitt is chairman of the Obama Foundation, which is accepting bids for the Obama presidential library and museum. The bids are due on Dec. 11.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Obama's back-to-basics speech: Economy is better than you think
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today