Obama used his radio and Internet address Saturday to bring attention to steps he outlined in Florida's Walt Disney World to make it easier for tourists to travel to the U.S. The White House said more than 1 million U.S. jobs could be created over the next decade, according to industry projections, if the nation took a larger share of the international travel market.
"We want more visitors coming here. We want them spending money here. It's good for our economy, and it will help provide the boost more businesses need to grow and hire," Obama said in the radio address.
The tourism initiative, announced in Florida on Thursday, was part of an executive order Obama signed to increase non-immigrant visa processing capacity in China and Brazil by 40 percent this year and expand a visa waiver program that lets participating nationals to travel to the U.S. for stays of 90 days or less without a visa.
Obama said too often "we've seen Congress drag its feet and refuse to take steps we know will help strengthen our economy."
The president said that has prompted him to take executive actions to give states more flexibility to help children meet higher educational standards, help small businesses with federal contracts get paid at a faster rate, offer incentives for companies to hire veterans and help families refinance their mortgages.
Obama will deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday. The president said he'd offer a "blueprint for actions we need to take together -- not just me, or Congress, but every American -- to rebuild an economy where hard work and responsibility are rewarded. An economy that's built to last."
Republicans said Obama's previous State of the Union addresses have offered plenty of promises but few results.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, delivering the weekly Republican address, said Obama told Americans in 2009 that an economic stimulus plan would improve the economy and offered health care reform as an economic boost in his 2010 speech. Last year, Hensarling said Obama vowed "that his budget would help us `win the future."'
Instead, the lawmaker said 1.9 million fewer Americans have jobs since the president took office, gas prices have doubled and more Americans are now on food stamps than ever before.
"Regardless of the president's good intentions, his policies have failed the American people. His policies haven't just failed to make the economy better -- they have actually made it worse," he said, criticizing the president for rejecting a pipeline extension that would have run from Canada to Texas and added thousands of jobs.