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The President's Weekly Address

March 09, 2013

Hi, everybody. As I've said before, my top priority as President is making sure we do everything we can to reignite the true engine of America's economic growth: a rising, thriving middle class.

Yesterday we received some welcome news on that front. We learned that our businesses added nearly 250,000 new jobs last month. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent: still too high, but now lower than it was when I took office.

Our businesses have created jobs every month for 3 years straight, nearly 6.4 million new jobs in all. Our manufacturers are bringing jobs back to America. Our stock market has rebounded. New homes are being built and sold at a faster pace. And we need to do everything we can to keep that momentum going.

That means asking ourselves three questions every day: How do we make America a magnet for new jobs? How do we equip more of our people with the skills those jobs require? And how do we make sure that your hard work leads to a decent living?

And that has to be our driving focus, our north star. And at a time when our businesses are gaining a little more traction, the last thing we should do is allow Washington politics to get in the way. You deserve better than the same political gridlock and refusal to compromise that has too often passed for serious debate over the last few years.

And that's why I've been reaching out to Republicans and Democrats to see if we can untangle some of the gridlock. Earlier this week, for example, I met with some Republican Senators to see if there were smarter ways to grow our economy and reduce our deficits than the arbitrary cuts and the so-called sequester that recently went into place. We had an open and honest conversation about critical issues like immigration reform and gun violence, and other areas where we can work together to move this country forward. And next week, I'll attend both the Democratic and Republican Party meetings in the Capitol to continue those discussions.

The fact is, America is a nation of different beliefs and different points of view. That's part of what makes us strong and, frankly, makes our democratic debates messy and, a lot of times, pretty frustrating. But ultimately, what makes us special is when we summon the ability to see past those differences and come together around the belief that what binds us together will always be more powerful than what drives us apart.

As Democrats and Republicans, we may disagree on the best way to achieve our goals, but I'm confident we can agree on what those goals should be: a strong and vibrant middle class; an economy that allows businesses to grow and thrive; an education system that gives more Americans the skills they need to compete for the jobs of the future; an immigration system that actually works for families and businesses; stronger communities; and safer streets for our children.

Making progress on these issues won't be easy. In the months ahead, there will be more contentious debate and honest disagreement between principled people who want what's best for this country. But I still believe that compromise is possible. I still believe we can come together to do big things. And I know there are leaders on the other side of the aisle who share that belief.

So I'll keep fighting to solve the real challenges facing middle class families. And I'll enlist anyone who is willing to help. That's what this country needs right now, and that's what you deserve.

Thanks so much.

NOTE: The address was recorded at approximately 3:35 p.m. on March 8 in the State Dining Room at the White House for broadcast on March 9. The transcript was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary on March 8, but was embargoed for release until 6 a.m. on March 9.

Barack Obama, The President's Weekly Address Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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