President Barack Obama made the November elections about him during a speech Thursday, touting economic progress since he took office, laying out a list of Democratic favorites — from a minimum wage hike to an unemployment extension — and even trying to play offense on Obamacare.
"I am not on the ballot this fall. Michelle’s pretty happy about that. But make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them," Obama said in prepared remarks at Northwestern University.
"This isn’t a political speech, and I’m not going to tell you who to vote for — even though I suppose it is kind of implied," Obama said, in a sentence that became an immediate head-scratcher as the president launched into a litany of attacks on the GOP. While it's true that many of Obama's proposed policies — such as raising the minimum wage — poll far better than the president himself, many of the Democrats running this year have gone to great lengths to distance themselves from the man who has been languishing in the low-to-mid 40s in various national polls and worse in some of the battleground states that will determine control of the Senate.
After claiming he wasn't making a political speech, Obama ripped Republicans for proposing more tax cuts, and said he wants to help the middle class instead — a theme that helped him 2012.
He dinged Republicans for blocking a minimum wage increase, pay equity, student loan refinancing and an unemployment extension.
"When push came to shove this year, and Republicans in Congress actually had to take a stand on policies that would help the middle class and working Americans ... the answer was 'no,'" Obama said. "One thing they did vote 'yes' on was another massive tax cut for the wealthiest Americans."
Obama's speech, like many he's given of late, have been on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand affairs, peppered with caveats.
The economy has soared, the president bragged, on his watch. But many don't feel it, and the typical family's income hasn't budged since 1997, he said.
Obama touted the fact America has become the world leader in oil drilling — then pivoted to the need to cut carbon emissions.
He bragged about the Affordable Care Act — saying that slowing premium hikes since the law took effect were like "an $1,800 tax cut" — but said most people don't know it.
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