President Barack Obama delivered a looser, more campaign-style speech in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, one that shied away from his more policy heavy economic address in Illinois Wednesday, but he continued to bash Republicans for opposing his agenda.
"I'm laying out my ideas to give the middle class a better shot and if the Republicans don't agree with me, I want them to lay out their ideas," he said. "If they've got a better idea to create jobs and rebuild our infrastructure and make sure that we've got great ports all along the gulf, come on. Lemme know what your ideas are. I'm listening."
Obama used the same rhetoric he rolled out Wednesday to describe how his administration's policies on health care, Wall Street and tax and spending had pulled the country back from the brink of a financial crisis. Republicans, however, have criticized the president of racking up record federal deficits and overseeing a sluggish economic recovery.
"If you ask some of these same folks about how to strengthen the middle class, they will tell you, 'Oh, out of control spending is the problem,'" Obama said, pushing back. "Or they'll say, 'Obamacare is the problem.' The problem is that we're trying to give health insurance to millions of Americans that don't have it."
The president said he finds it hard to blame the Affordable Care Act, his signature health care law, for job losses when "our businesses have created jobs at nearly twice the pace of the last recovery, when there was no Obamacare."
In Jacksonville, Obama pitched increased investment in infrastructure spending, citing the importance of maintaining working ports.
"As a share of our economy, we are investing less in rebuilding America than we did two decades ago," he said. "We are spending less on fixing our infrastructure than China is, than Germany is…we're lagging behind."
He concluded his speech with a riff slamming Republicans' economic proposals.
"Shutting down the government just because I'm for keeping it open, that's not an economic plan; threatening that you won't pay the bills in this country when we've already racked up those bills, that's not an economic plan, that's just being a deadbeat," he said.
But despite his swagger, Obama said he's open to stealing good ideas from anyone, regardless of their political party.
"I don't claim to have a monopoly on every good idea. I don't! I'm happy to steal good ideas from anybody because I just want to make things work," he said. "If Washington will just shake off its complacency and set aside this kind of constant gridlock and my-way-or-the-highway attitude, our economy will be better a year from now. Just like it's better now than it was last year."
Obama pledged to continue traveling around the country to rally the public for his proposals and press Congress to move ahead.