Obama Highlights Middle-Class Struggles, Stalled Congress

President Barack Obama, using Kansas City as his backdrop, plans to criticize Congress for failing to pass legislation he says would help middle-income Americans.

Lawmakers are set to leave Washington at the end of this week for a five-week summer recess without dealing with Obama’s requests for more highway construction money, approving a federal budget, raising the minimum wage or overhauling immigration law.

Obama is scheduled to deliver remarks tomorrow about the economy. He’ll boast of rising home prices, declining unemployment, falling budget deficits and growing consumer confidence during his presidency.

“If consumers put their money where their mouth is and spending improves as much as the readings on confidence, then the second half outlook for the economy is going to turn out great,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York.

In the speech in Kansas City, Missouri, Obama also will ridicule House Republicans for planning to use taxpayer money to sue the president, said a White House aide, who asked not to be identified to discuss highlights before the speech. Obama will call it a political stunt in advance of congressional elections.

The president also will urge lawmakers to change the law to prevent companies from avoiding taxes in the U.S. after they move their corporate address overseas, according to the aide.

Opinion Survey

An improving economy isn’t reflected in public opinion surveys. Gallup’s daily approval poll for July 25-27 showed the president with a 41 percent approval rating and 52 percent disapproving. One year ago, the ratings showed 46 percent approval and 46 disapproval.

House Republican Speaker John Boehner 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?,’ they’re also asking, ‘Where is the president?’”

Unlike most of his trips in past months, the two-day trip to Kansas City isn’t raising money for Democratic campaigns in November. Instead, Obama is using a barbecue dinner with four people -- and their middle-class stories -- to prod Congress to act on his agenda and to defend his use of executive authority if they don’t.

Veterans, Border

Before lawmakers leave town, the White House said it wants, at a minimum, for Congress to send Obama compromise legislation on military veterans’ health care and provide $3.7 billion to cope with an influx of children coming over the U.S.-Mexico border. So far, House Republicans are considering a fraction of Obama’s spending request.

Kansas City is the home town of Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary. He was shown in a White House-produced video extending an invitation to have dinner with the president to residents who wrote letters outlining middle-class struggles.

In the video, one voter was heard saying that she was “so happy and so blessed” to get an invitation. Another said, “I am just amazed that a little bitty old lady” could have dinner with the president.

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