But with economic growth now far more robust than when he took
office, he is finding some measure of solace on the domestic front
while a number of crises rage abroad.
With his handling of foreign policy under fire in confronting
challenges from Ukraine to the Middle East, Obama made a Labor Day
trek to Milwaukee's annual Laborfest event to underscore how he
feels his leadership on the economy has paid off.
"I just want everybody to understand because you wouldn't always
know it from watching the news," he said. "By almost every measure,
the American economy and American workers are better off than when I
The national unemployment rate was 6.2 percent in August, down more
than a percentage point from the year before, and a far cry from
when he took office in 2009 with the economy in crisis. After a 2.1
percent contraction in GDP in the first quarter of this year, GDP
rebounded at a 4.2 percent growth clip in the second quarter.
Still, the job market for many is unsatisfactory and some have given
up looking for jobs. Also many of the proposals Obama has made to
create more jobs, such as persuading Congress to accept an increase
in the minimum wage and boost infrastructure spending, have gone
nowhere, forcing him to act where he can with executive orders.
Obama took credit, however, for the improving economic picture by
harking back to decisions he made early in his first term, when he
led an effort to bail out the U.S. auto industry. He also said his
signature healthcare law has made life better for American workers:
"America is stronger because of decisions we made to rescue our
economy and rebuild it on a new foundation asking the simple
question: is this good for ordinary Americans?"
[to top of second column]
With little more than two months to go until November mid-term
elections, the president was greeted at the airport by Wisconsin
Governor Scott Walker, a potential Republican candidate to succeed
Obama in 2016.
Walker's Democratic challenger, Mary Burke, who had earlier said she
would not be at the Laborfest event because it was an official
event, not a political one, ended up meeting briefly with Obama
backstage. A White House official confirmed the meeting, but had no
Obama made no specific reference to the state's governor's race, but
he continued a pattern of criticizing Republicans at official
events, blasting them for refusing to go along with his agenda in
Congress and telling members of the audience who booed: "Don't boo.
Foreign policy challenges will retake center stage this week when
Obama travels to Estonia and to a NATO summit in Wales.
(Reporting by Steve Holland: Editing by G Crosse and Peter Cooney)
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