WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama says a new report showing that the unemployment rate has dropped below 8 percent is a sign the still-sluggish economy is moving forward. But Obama says more needs to be done.
He called on Republicans in Congress to work with Democrats on a plan to cut taxes for 98 percent of Americans and on another bill to help families refinance their homes at lower interest rates. Obama also said Congress should approve his plan for a veterans jobs corps to help former members of the military find work as police officers, firefighters and park rangers.
Obama is blaming congressional Republicans for not passing the legislation.
In his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, Obama said Republicans in Congress "need to stop trying to refight the battles of the past few years and finally start doing something to actually help the middle class get ahead."
Obama said the country has begun climbing out of the steep hole caused by the Great Recession of 2007-2009. "We've come too far to turn back now. And we've made too much progress to return to the policies that got us into this mess in the first place," he said.
Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney have clashed over who will do the most to help the middle class, most recently during this week's presidential debate in Denver.
Obama got much-needed good news Friday following his disappointing debate performance as the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent, the lowest level since Obama took office in 2009. Romney said Obama still has not done enough to create jobs.
In the GOP response Saturday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Romney has a sensible plan to fix the economy, while Obama's only plan is to repeat the same "failed policies that have buried the middle class" the past four years.
After four years of chronically high unemployment, record debt and higher health care costs, "We need a new direction, because we can't afford four more years like the last four," Priebus said.