President Barack Obama speaks during an event in the East Room of the White House April 8, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty

Riding high on economic growth, Obama hits the road


Riding high on the surge of recent economic growth, President Barack Obama plans to start the new year laying out a mix of executive actions and policy proposals on the economy, teeing up to the highly-anticipated State of the Union Address at the end of the month.

While a new GOP-controlled Congress reconvenes in Washington on Tuesday, the president will hit the road this week to highlight economic progress, building off the strong momentum of the latest GDP numbers which show the fastest U.S. growth in more than a decade. Obama is scheduled to travel to Detroit and Phoenix in the three weeks prior to delivering his State of the Union speech. He’ll also made a joint appearance with Vice President Joe Biden in Tennessee.

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According to White House spokesperson Eric Schultz, Obama will address ways to help more Americans become homeowners and get college educations. The president also plans on discussing his plan to create more good-paying jobs.

The push begins Wednesday with the Detroit portion of his trip. While in the Motor City, he’ll focus on the automotive industry’s bounce back from the bailout, which has impacted more than one million jobs. The next day in Phoenix, an area with the housing sector on the mend, he will announce new measures to help more Americans achieve the dream of home-ownership. Obama plans to spotlight during his stop in Tennessee his administration’s efforts to create new manufacturing jobs.

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“The President is eager to get to work, and looks forward to working with the new Congress on policies that will make sure middle class Americans are sharing in the economic recovery,” said Schultz. “There are a number of issues we could make progress on, but the President is clear that he will not let this Congress undo important protections gained — particularly in areas of health care, Wall Street reform and the environment.”

And Obama has reason to be confident. Closing out 2014, consumer confidence hit its highest level since 2008. The unemployment rate remains on track to drop even further from the current 5.8%. In addition, his approvals ratings are up for the first time since September 2013.

“America’s resurgence is real,” an assured Obama said at his year-end press conference.

“If Republicans seek to take health care away from people who just got it, they will meet stiff resistance from me. If they try to water down consumer protections that we put in place in the aftermath of the financial crisis, I will say, no,” Obama warned at the time.

Republicans have collectively spent the better half of Obama’s presidency blaming him for a fragile economy, so the latest data may push lawmakers to retool their own message to the American public.

“My presidency is entering the fourth quarter,” he added. “Interesting stuff happens in the fourth quarter. And I am looking forward to it.”

State of the Union

Riding high on economic growth, Obama hits the road