Obama Works Economic Message as GOP Hammers Away at Health Care

Posted August 1, 2009 at 7:02am

President Barack Obama on Saturday said the recent improvement in the gross domestic product suggests the country is getting back on track. But he and the Republicans are firing away in different directions: While the president in his weekly radio address switched to the economy after several Saturdays of pressing for health care reform, the GOP address, delivered by Sen. John Thune (S.D.), hit the Democrats on health care.

In his remarks, Obama was careful to note that changes for the better in the economy would not lead immediately to the return of jobs.

“History shows that you need to have economic growth before you have job growth,— Obama said. “And the report [Friday] on our economy is an important sign that we’re headed in the right direction.—

The latest numbers show the economy contracted during the second quarter at a better-than-expected one percent.

“Business investment, which had been plummeting in the past few months, is showing signs of stabilizing,— Obama said. “This means that eventually, businesses will start growing and hiring again. And that’s when it will really feel like a recovery to the American people.—

Republicans have homed in on the worsening unemployment picture. GOP lawmakers have been repeating the mantra “Where are the jobs— during the past two weeks, charging that the stimulus plan backed by the president has failed to deliver on employment. White House officials point out that employment generally lags behind economic growth as the economy comes out of a recession.

“This won’t happen overnight,— Obama said of the return of hiring. “As I’ve said before, it will take many more months to fully dig ourselves out of a recession — a recession that we’ve now learned was even deeper than anyone thought.—

Obama on Wednesday will visit the Elkhart, Ind., area to talk about the economy.

Thune mostly offered the standard GOP response to Obama’s health care proposals, warning of “government-run health care— and listing familiar GOP alternatives.

“Their plan for government-run health care would disrupt our current system and force millions of Americans who currently enjoy their employer-based coverage into a new health care plan run by government bureaucrats,— Thune said.

Polls suggest public concerns that Obama’s proposals will add too much to the deficit and that he is moving too fast to enact them. In his remarks, Thune hit hard on both themes.

“We need to get the right reform, rather than just rush something through that could leave us in far worse shape in the future,— Thune said.

“In this difficult recession, Americans and our government are already over-extended. The Democrats who control Congress have been spending money and racking up debt at an unprecedented pace. And their plan for government-run health care would only make things worse.—