GALESBURG, Ill. — Seeking to build momentum for looming fiscal fights, President Barack Obama on Wednesday cast himself as the champion for middle-class Americans. He chided Washington for having "taken its eye off the ball" and declared that the economy would be the "highest priority" of his second term.
Obama, in an hourlong address that was at times deeply partisan, also accused Republican lawmakers of succumbing to "an endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals."
"I am here to say this needs to stop," Obama said in a speech at Knox College. "This moment does not require short-term thinking. It does not require having the same old stale debates."
GOP leaders quickly panned the president's remarks as a series of repackaged ideas and empty promises.
"It's a hollow shell, it's an Easter egg with no candy in it," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Indeed, Obama presented no new approaches for resolving conflicts with Republicans this fall over raising the nation's borrowing limit and curtailing federal budget cuts known as the sequester.
The White House fears that standoffs this fall over the debt ceiling and sequester could upend the economy's steady progress. The president has declared that he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling and expects Republicans to lift the borrowing limit without concessions. He's also pushing to end the federal budget cuts before they extend into the next fiscal year.