Obama: Most Urgent Task to Restore the Economy

President Obama address the nation from the Oval Office on August 31, 2010
CBS News

In his Oval Office speech Tuesday evening, President Obama marked the end of the combat mission in Iraq, and a renewed mission, which will involve significant political combat with the mid-term elections on the horizon, to get the American economy back on track.

"Throughout our history, America has been willing to bear the burden of promoting liberty and human dignity overseas, understanding its link to our own liberty and security. But we have also understood that our nation's strength and influence abroad must be firmly anchored in our prosperity at home. And the bedrock of that prosperity must be a growing middle class," Mr. Obama said.

He went on to say that the U.S. spent over $1 trillion to fight wars in the last decade, borrowing heavily from China and other countries, resulting in "short-changed investments in our own people" and "record deficits."

He stated that the country's most urgent task is to restore the economy and get the millions of Americans out of work back to work. "This will be difficult. But in the days to come, it must be our central mission as a people, and my central responsibility as President," he said.

Mr. Obama offered some familiar themes for fixing the economy--restoring the U.S. manufacturing base, energy policy that diminishes dependence on foreign oil, education reform and investing in America's long-term competitiveness and innovation.

He concluded the portion of his speech on the economy by calling upon Americans to tackle the challenges at home with as much "energy, and grit, and sense of common purpose as our men and women in uniform who have served abroad."

He continued, "They have met every test that they faced. Now, it is our turn. Now, it is our responsibility to honor them by coming together, all of us, and working to secure the dream that so many generations have fought for -the dream that a better life awaits anyone who is willing to work for it and reach for it."

Based on what the opposition party and even some of his own party are saying, a common purpose may agreed upon but the politicians, economists and voters aren't in agreement as to how to "secure the dream" and kickstart the U.S. economy.

As an example of the political discord over the economy, Mr. Obama was advocating for his small-business jobs bill earlier this week. "I ask Senate Republicans to drop the blockade. I know we're entering election season. But the people who sent us here expect us to work together to get things done and improve this economy," he said.

More on President Obama's Iraq speech:

Obama Hails End of Iraq Combat, Stresses Economy
Obama Calls Bush Fellow Patriot in Iraq Speech
Obama's Iraq Speech: Full Text
Obama Calls Bush, Talks to Troops about Iraq
Real Risks for 50,000 U.S. Troops Still in Iraq
A Bittersweet Homecoming for Iraq Troops
Obama on Fallen Soldiers
'Transition in Afghanistan Will Begin'
Obama on Bush Conversation, Patriotism
American Challenges at Home
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