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Obama pledges to work for a thriving middle class

WASHINGTON - A strong economy needs bustling Main Streets and a thriving middle class, not just a healthy stock market, President Barack Obama said in paying tribute to the American worker.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama on Saturday outlined what he's done to help the middle class, a group he says has been squeezed the most during the recession.

He spoke of efforts to create jobs, make college more affordable, help the middle class build retirement nest eggs, cut taxes on these families and stop health insurance companies from refusing to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Labor Day is about more than grilling food and spending time with family and friends, Obama said.

"It's also a day to honor the American worker - to reaffirm our commitment to the great American middle class that has, for generations, made our economy the envy of the world," he said.

But Obama said that, for a decade, middle-class families have experienced stagnant incomes and declining economic security while tax breaks were given to companies that shifted jobs overseas and Wall Street firms reaped huge profits.

"So this Labor Day, we should recommit ourselves to our time-honored values and to this fundamental truth: To heal our economy, we need more than a healthy stock market; we need bustling Main Streets and a growing, thriving middle class," Obama said. "That's why I will keep working day by day to restore opportunity, economic security and that basic American dream for our families and future generations."

In the weekly Republican message, Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Ky., criticized nearly 200 pending rules and regulations as a threat to job creation. Davis said many of the mandates would cost small-business owners who don't have the money or time to comply with them.

"The more time small-business owners spend pushing paper, the less time they have to focus on creating jobs," Davis said.

He highlighted legislation he introduced that would require Congress to vote on every major new rule before it can take effect.

"The sooner we rein in the red-tape factory in Washington, D.C., the sooner small businesses can get back to creating jobs and helping more Americans find an honest day's work," he said.

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