Published August 13, 2011
Seeking to exploit Congress's abysmally low approval ratings, President Obama is urging voters to tell their lawmakers they must compromise for the sake of the country.
In his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, Obama said people are frustrated by the partisan gridlock in Washington, especially after the brutal fight over increasing the nation's borrowing limit that didn't prevent the U.S. debt from being downgraded.
Obama tried to position himself on the side of the public and against a deeply unpopular Congress. But even though Obama's approval ratings aren't so good either, he clearly sees a need to direct the public's anger toward Congress or risk being the target himself as the 2012 campaign revs up.
"You've got a right to be frustrated," the president said. "I am. Because you deserve better. I don't think it's too much for you to expect that the people you send to this town start delivering."
"Members of Congress are at home in their districts right now. And if you agree with me -- whether you're a Democrat or a Republican or not much of a fan of either -- let them know."
The president listed several initiatives he's pushing, including trade deals, improvements to the patent system and extension of a cut in the tax that workers pay to fund Social Security.
"These are all things we can do right now. So let's do them," said Obama, who will repeat his economic message during a three-day Midwestern bus tour beginning Monday.
Republicans used their weekly address to criticize Obama on the economy, particularly government regulations that Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said burdened businesses and discouraged them from expanding and hiring.
"Clearly, the policies of this administration are not working," said Toomey, one of the lawmakers newly appointed to the congressional panel that's supposed to develop recommendations to cut the debt. "So, what went wrong? Well, a big part of the problem has been job-killing regulations."
Toomey said that America can still thrive, "but first, government has to get out of the way."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.