President Barack Obama on Wednesday launched a ground campaign to defend his vision for the US economy, vowing to revitalize the American middle class in the face of a hostile Congress.
Obama made a robust defense of his stalled economic initiatives, which have been bottled up in the Republican-led House of Representatives -- the branch of Congress responsible for managing the nation's checkbook.
The president planned to visit three US cities over two days, for a series of addresses on accelerating economic growth and creating jobs.
The speeches, which come six months into his second term, started Wednesday at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, which he first visited as a newly-elected senator eight years ago.
Obama told the crowd in his adopted home state that generations of middle class prosperity had begun to stall, in recent years, leaving the economy hamstrung.
"By the time I took office in 2009, we all know that the bubble had burst, costing millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, and their savings," the president told the crowd.
"The decades-long erosion of middle-class security was laid bare for all to see and feel."
But, Obama continued: "Today, five years after the start of that Great Recession, America has fought its way back."
The US president told the crowd that his administration helped to begin the rescue of the nation's economic stagnation, rescuing the auto industry, revamping the health care system and shoring up the financial sector, among other achievements."Thanks to the grit and resilience of the American people, we've cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis and begun to lay a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth," he said.
But the president's efforts to reframe the debate over the economy comes with Congress reloading for a new round of battles over raising the debt ceiling and other economic fights.
Obama and Republican lawmakers are bracing for renewed clashes over spending and the federal budget, which threaten to hurt an economy finally showing signs of stabilizing after tumbling into a deep economic trough.
Republicans have dismissed Obama's focus on the economy as a thinly veiled excuse to seek more spending.
"If the president was serious about helping our economy, he wouldn't give another speech, he'd reach out and actually work with us," House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday.
The president hopes to negotiate a new fiscal compromise by October -- the end of the current fiscal year -- in order to head off the threat of a government shutdown that could further damage the sluggish recovery.
After Wednesday's speech in Illinois, Obama was to give an address later in the day at the University of Central Missouri, in Warrensburg.
On Thursday he heads to Florida, where he will give a speech at the Jacksonville Port Authority.Since his last speech in Galesburg, the United States suffered its worst economic crisis in two generations before a halting recovery finally began to take hold.
He added however that there is still a ways to go for the economic rebound to solidify.
"We're not there yet. We all know that," Obama told the crowd. "We've got more work to do."
He said the trends of a winner-take-all economy that he spoke about in 2005 "have been made worse by the recession."
As the November 2014 midterm elections loom in the distance, the US debt ceiling will provide another likely battleground in addition to the budget battles.
On Tuesday, Boehner vowed that "we're not going to raise the debt ceiling without real cuts in spending. It's as simple as that."
Beginning in 2011, House Republicans have used the threat of the looming debt limit as a bargaining chip for spending cuts.
The White House, for its part, has insisted that Obama will not negotiate over the debt limit, deepening the stalemate.
A new poll Wednesday, one of several this week, showed that stalemate in Washington was exacting a political toll on both sides.
The survey by the Wall Street Journal and NBC gave the president his lowest job approval ratings since August 2011.
The continued political standoff has proved equally costly to Congress, with 83 percent of Americans saying that they disapprove of the job US lawmakers are doing.
Obama's 45 percent job performance figure represented a three point fall from just one month ago.
The rating is just one point higher than his all-time presidential low, which he hit in August 2011.