The full text of his speech can be found here (in the video his speech starts at the 49 minute mark). The crux of the speech is this:
With an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball. And I am here to say this needs to stop. Short-term thinking and stale debates are not what this moment requires. Our focus must be on the basic economic issues that the matter most to you – the people we represent. And as Washington prepares to enter another budget debate, the stakes for our middle class could not be higher. The countries that are passive in the face of a global economy will lose the competition for good jobs and high living standards. That’s why America has to make the investments necessary to promote long-term growth and shared prosperity. Rebuilding our manufacturing base. Educating our workforce. Upgrading our transportation and information networks. That’s what we need to be talking about. That’s what Washington needs to be focused on.
And that’s why, over the next several weeks, in towns across this country, I will engage the American people in this debate. I will lay out my ideas for how we build on the cornerstones of what it means to be middle class in America, and what it takes to work your way into the middle class in America. Job security, with good wages and durable industries. A good education. A home to call your own. Affordable health care when you get sick. A secure retirement even if you’re not rich. Reducing poverty and inequality. Growing prosperity and opportunity.
Some of these ideas I’ve talked about before, and some will be new. Some will require Congress, and some I will pursue on my own. Some will benefit folks right away; some will take years to fully implement. But the key is to break through the tendency in Washington to careen from crisis to crisis. What we need isn’t a three-month plan, or even a three-year plan, but a long-term American strategy, based on steady, persistent effort, to reverse the forces that have conspired against the middle class for decades.
President Obama has given so many talks on the economy that it's hard to take him seriously this time. I like the focus on the middle class and poverty, and I appreciate the attempt to sketch out a long-term strategy. But most people could interpret it as being a little late in President Obama's time in office to start focusing on keeping Wall Street in line and making sure that prosperity belongs to the people, where it's always been when America has been at its strongest, financially.
Still, it's nice to hear President Obama speaking about these issues again in an energetic manner. It reminds me of the early days, when he was selling his stimulus package to the American people, but a lot of time has passed since those days, and the situation in Washington has only gotten worse. Can President Obama turn this ship around? Like most of you, I really want him to succeed, but probably like most of you, I haven't seen evidence that this kind of initiative can succeed.
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