WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, citing an economic rebound, said in a CBS interview he feels Democrats can keep control of the U.S. Senate in November elections, although he acknowledged many Americans did not feel the economy was recovering.
Republicans need to gain six seats to recapture Senate control, which would dampen prospects for Obama’s agenda in the last two years of his presidency. He has been struggling in opinion polls and faces a series of international crises.
Asked in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired on Sunday if he thought Democrats could hold the Senate, Obama replied: Yes. I do.”
Noting the economy was in crisis when he took office in January 2009, Obama said unemployment and the deficit were down sharply on his watch, while corporate balance sheets were the strongest in decades and there had been “the longest run of uninterrupted private-sector job growth in our history.”
“I can put my record against any leader around the world in terms of digging ourselves out of a terrible, almost unprecedented financial crisis,” he said.
“Ronald Reagan used to ask the question: ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’ Obama said of the former president. “In this case, are you better off than you were in six? And the answer is, the country is definitely better off than we were when I came into office.”
But he added that people “don’t feel it. And the reason they don’t feel it is because incomes and wages are not going up.”He said solutions to that included raising the minimum wage, ensuring that women were paid the same as men for the same work and rebuilding the country’s infrastructure.
Asked if he thought he could sell that argument to voters, Obama said: “Hopefully, they get a chance to hear the argument, because all I’m doing is presenting the facts.”
Reporting by Peter Cooney; Editing by Nick Zieminski