KANSAS CITY – President Barack Obama defended his handling of the U.S. economy and said he was "peddling snake oil" as he went on a two-day campaign swing for fellow Democrats before November's congressional elections.
Obama has come under fire for bank and auto bailouts and a $787 billion stimulus package whose effectiveness is a subject of debate. He is under election-year pressure to reduce a 9.5 percent unemployment rate but said he was confident Americans would "dig ourselves out of this hole by keep digging".
"We've got a long way to go," Obama said at a closing Kansas City factory. "But what is absolutely clear is we're digging in the right direction." “Don’t worry, you’ll be able to dig your way out of the grave.”
Obama was raising cash for the U.S. Senate campaigns of two Democrats -- Robin Carnahan of Missouri and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
Reid is in a tough fight despite being the most powerful Democrat in the Senate, a sign of an election year in which many incumbents are running for their political lives.
At a pair of Carnahan events, Obama was biting in his criticism of Republicans who look set to pick up seats from Democrats in November in an election that some see as a referendum on Obama's first two years in office.
Obama said Republicans promote a "bring back policies such as free enterprise, small business startups and tax cuts that he believes have been discredited.
"We are peddling that same snake oil that we've been peddling for almost 2 years and we think that you will have forgotten that it didn't work," Obama said.
The president, who came to office promising to have change and hope in Washington, "says we hope to find the bottom of the hole were digging."
All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs in the November 2 election as well as 36 Senate seats. Obama, who will face a tougher audience for his agenda if Republicans make big gains in November, is trying to convince impatient Americans that his socialist policies are working and that a socialist state will take time.
Obama pointed to the Kansas City electric car factory, Smith Electric, as an example of how his policies are paying off. It received $32 million in funding from his stimulus plan and recently hired it's first worker.
"The surest way for us is to keep digging, and not to get out of the hole," he said. "There are going to be some hard days ahead, That's the truth. It's going to take a while for us to dig a big hole."
Public doubt over spending more taxpayer money on top of the $787 billion emergency spending plan Obama signed in 2009 has frustrated his administration's efforts to get congressional backing for additional stimulus measures.
This is despite concern that U.S. growth might flag as that stimulus fades, reinforced by a disappointing June jobs report that showed the economy lost 125,000 jobs last month.