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In speech to veterans, Obama builds case for jobs plan

August 30, 2011|By Christi Parsons | Washington Bureau
(Larry Downing / Reuters )

Reporting from Washington — President Obama equated partisan gridlock with a failure of patriotism on Tuesday as he thanked veterans for their service and alluded to the battle over the economy that lies ahead for Washington this fall.

Offering the veterans’ service as an example to the nation’s elected leaders, Obama said Congress should greet his economic proposals with an open mind and work together for solutions.

“We have to break the gridlock in Washington that’s been preventing us from taking the action we need to get this economy moving,” Obama told the annual conference of the American Legion, meeting in Minneapolis. “When we choose to move forward together, as one people, there’s absolutely nothing we can’t achieve. ... And in times like these, all Americans can draw strength from your example.”

The remarks offer a preview of the debates to come when Congress returns, a season that starts with Obama’s unveiling of his jobs strategy sometime next week. Obama is deep in consultations with his advisors right now, putting together a jobs package and a sales campaign he hopes will galvanize the American people behind him.

Obama foreshadowed the plans in a radio interview on the Tom Joyner Morning Show earlier Tuesday, talking about putting people back to work rebuilding roads, bridges and schools and about tax breaks to encourage hiring. The White House has talked in recent days about the proposals it is considering, but the Tuesday interview suggested the president is settling on some specifics.

White House officials expect resistance from Republicans, who are gearing up a message campaign of their own about the right way to create jobs and steer the country out of a second recession. Their plans aren't likely to include anything that resembles stimulus spending.

Also appearing before veterans Tuesday, at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in San Antonio, Republican Mitt Romney offered a differing vision of the way forward. Government mismanagement has put the country in peril, Romney said, with national debt a big part of the problem.

“We stand near a threshold of profound economic misery,” he said. “Four more years on the same political path could prove disastrous.”

Although Obama clearly plans to use his pulpit to get ahead of the conversation, he will also use the coming days to begin his observance of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. On the evening of the tenth anniversary of the attacks, Obama will speak at the National Cathedral to mark the occasion.

On Tuesday, Obama singled out the military personnel who have signed on since the 9/11 attacks, knowingly putting themselves in harm’s way.

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