Obama Takes Bus Tour to Illinois

Posted August 17th, 2011 at 4:15 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama is wrapping up his three-state bus tour Wednesday in his home state of Illinois.

Mr. Obama is holding two town hall events in Illinois, which will likely focus on job creation–a key theme at his previous stops in Minnesota and Iowa.

The president is using his three-day trip to the midwestern states to counter Republican charges that he is doing little to pump life into the ailing U.S. economy and deal with unemployment.

Republicans have criticized the tour, with the chairman of the Republican National Committee calling it a “campaign trip” paid for by taxpayers.

At a rural economic forum in Iowa Tuesday, Mr. Obama accused some members of Congress of focusing on next year's election instead of passing legislation to help the American people. He said lawmakers should take steps such as extending the payroll tax cut and approving more road construction funds.

In an apparent reference to the conservative Tea Party movement, Mr. Obama said “a faction in Congress” is holding back a U.S. economic rebound.

Some of the Republican presidential contenders have been holding campaign events this week, including Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Texas Governor Rick Perry. Perry told business leaders in Iowa Tuesday that Mr. Obama's approach is to study things, but he argued that the problem is already known, saying Americans are being “overtaxed, over-regulated and over-litigated.”

Mr. Obama returns Wednesday night to Washington, where he spent much of the summer caught up in a bitter partisan battle over raising the nation's debt limit.

The president's bus tour comes with U.S. unemployment at more than 9 percent and a new public opinion poll giving him a 39 percent job approval rating. Other polls give Congress a much lower approval rating.