President Barack Obama lectured Republicans on Wednesday for engaging in an “endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals” and warned members of Congress that he “will not allow gridlock, or inaction, or willful indifference” to get in the way of economic progress. In a lengthy speech at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, Obama said he would “pick up the phone and call CEOs, I’ll call philanthropists, I’ll call college presidents, I’ll call labor leaders — I’ll call anybody who can help — and enlist them in our efforts” to boost the sluggish economy and reverse the fortunes of the struggling middle class, adding that he welcomes “ideas from anybody, across the political spectrum” to help with the undertaking.
Yahoo! News' Chief Washington Correspondent Olivier Knox says Obama’s speech – the first of many economy-focused speeches to come this summer – was largely symbolic and did not offer any new remedies or proposals to end the current economic malaise. The president noted that private businesses have created 7.2 million new jobs in three years, the strongest private-sector job growth since 1999. But many Americans are still reeling from the housing crash and cannot find work, and 54% of them believe the country is still in a recession according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.
Related: America Becomes a Defeatist Nation
Obama’s second-term agenda has been stymied by various scandals and his advisers are trying hard to refocus the national discourse on the economy, says Knox. Republicans are acting as if Obama is a lame duck president and these speeches are “an effort to regain an initiative” on the biggest issues facing Americans, Knox adds. Important legislation such as immigration reform and student loans may be not tackled unless lawmakers' feet are held to the fire.
“This is a Congress that needs a crisis to act,” Knox quips.
As for rumors that Larry Summers has become the frontrunner to replace Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Knox dismisses the innuendo.
“I have a sinking suspicion Summers and his allies may have something to do with goosing this talk,” Knox says.
Watch the video above to see who Knox thinks could replace Bernanke next year.
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