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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.

As he has for several weeks, President Obama took up the theme of the ending the sequester for his weekly address, emphasizing more of a "can do" attitude this morning than the theme he's been hitting on in past weeks—Republican obstructionism.

He opened by pointing to yesterday's announcement of promising job numbers and a lower unemployment rate, a record-high stock market and rebound in new housing construction and sales. Continuing that momentum, he said, should be our "north star" as we move ahead in the coming months, looking to lock in these gains and further stabilize and expand the middle class.

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?
He's been reaching across the aisle, he said, meeting with Republicans this week in the White House, talking with members of his own party as well to try and find a way out of the sequester—and to find common ground on immigration and reining in gun violence in the months ahead. Meetings, he said, are planned for next week as well.

President Obama ended with an optimistic flourish—not uncommon for him in his first term, but a tone he's sounded less and less of late:

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 who share that belief.

To read the transcript in full, check below the fold or visit the White House website.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
The White House
March 9, 2013

Hi, everybody. 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% – still too high, but now lower than it was when I took office.

Our businesses have created jobs every month for three 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?

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.

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, 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 what makes us strong, and frankly, makes our democratic debates messy and often 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 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 now – and that’s what you deserve.

Thanks.
 

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