Obama Highlights Middle-Class Struggles, Stalled Congress

President Barack Obama, his party facing possible losses in the midterm elections, went on the offensive against congressional Republicans, blaming them for blocking legislation that would help middle-income Americans.

On the same day the government reported that the U.S. economy grew at a 4 percent annualized rate in the second quarter, Obama said the recovery hasn’t been evenly distributed, leaving many families behind.

“Imagine how much further along we’d be if Congress was doing its job,” Obama said today in Kansas City, Missouri.

Lawmakers are set to depart Washington at the end of this week for a month-long recess without dealing with Obama’s request for a long-term solution for funding highway construction, approval of a federal budget, an increase in the minimum wage or revision of immigration law.

Obama spoke hours after the Commerce Department reported the economy grew more than forecast in the second quarter, after shrinking 2.1 percent from January through March.

The gain was led by consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy, which rose 2.5 percent. It reflected the biggest gain in purchases of durable goods such as autos in almost five years.

“The economy has emerged strongly from the pothole decline in the first quarter,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York, said in a statement. “The consumer is back. Things can’t go too far wrong if the consumer is out shopping.”

Approval Ratings

An improving economy isn’t reflected in Obama’s approval ratings. Gallup’s daily poll for July 26-28 showed the president with a 40 percent approval rating and 54 percent disapproving. One year ago, the ratings showed 46 percent approval and 46 disapproval.

That is creating a drag for Democratic congressional candidates as the party seeks to hold its majority in the Senate. Republicans are expected to maintain their House majority, and need a net gain of six Senate seats to gain party control of that chamber.

The president’s party historically loses seats in midterm elections, and most of the Senate seats being contested this year are held by Democrats.

House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, has criticized Obama’s trips outside Washington, particularly his fundraising.

“You know, the American people aren’t just asking the question, ‘Where are the jobs?,’” Boehner said, “they’re also asking, ‘Where is the president?’”

Obama had no fundraising events during his visit to Kansas City. He ridiculed Boehner’s plan to sue him over his use of executive authority rather than dealing with his economic proposals.

“Everybody recognizes this is a political stunt,” Obama said. “But it’s worse than that because every vote they’re taking like that is a vote they’re not taking to help you.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Roger Runningen in Kansas City, Missouri at rrunningen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net Joe Sobczyk, Michael Shepard

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