WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama is calling on frustrated voters to tell Congress they're sick of gridlock and partisanship and want to see compromise to boost the faltering economy and create jobs.
The president used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to try to position himself on the side of the public and against a Congress with abysmal approval ratings in the wake of the bitter partisan bickering over the debt.
Obama's approval ratings aren't so good either, but the president clearly sees a need to direct the public's anger at Washington toward lawmakers in Congress – or risk being its target himself as the 2012 presidential campaign season opens.
"You've got a right to be frustrated," the president said. "I am. Because you deserve better. I don't think it's too much for you to expect that the people you send to this town start delivering."
"Members of Congress are at home in their districts right now. And if you agree with me – whether you're a Democrat or a Republican or not much of a fan of either – let them know."
The president listed several initiatives he's been calling on Congress to pass – among them free trade pacts, measures to improve the patent system and an extension of a cut in the tax that workers pay to fund Social Security – and told voters to add their voice to his to push lawmakers to get it done.
"These are all things we can do right now. So let's do them," said Obama, who will repeat his economic message during a three-day Midwestern bus tour beginning Monday.
"And over the coming weeks, I'll put forward more proposals to help our businesses hire and create jobs, and won't stop until every American who wants a job can find one," said the president, without detailing specifics on what might be forthcoming.
Republicans used their weekly address to criticize Obama on the economy, particularly government regulations that Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said were overly burdensome and therefore discouraging businesses from expanding and hiring.
"Clearly, the policies of this administration are not working," said Toomey, who is one of the lawmakers newly appointed to a congressional supercommittee charged with coming up with recommendations to cut the debt. "So, what went wrong? Well, a big part of the problem has been job-killing regulations."
"Every day, small business owners, job creators and entrepreneurs are bombarded with new regulations and higher costs, discouraging these employers from expanding their businesses and hiring additional workers," he said.
Toomey said that America can still thrive, "but first, government has to get out of the way" – starting with eliminating harmful regulations like Obama's health care bill.