President Obama, Congress and the middle class

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about Affordable Care Act at The Fairmont Hotel on June 7, 2013 in San Jose, California. This week, Obama will take on the economy and the topic of the middle class.

This week President Obama is set to tour three states where he'll talk big ideas about ways to help the middle class. It's not a new theme for the president, but don't expect him to get too specific. There's a reason for going light on the details, experts say. After all, what can the president do to rescue the middle class?

"On his own? Not much," says Tammy Frisby, who teaches public policy at Stanford University. She says without cooperation from Congressional Republicans, it's a waste of breath to lay out detailed proposals.

"I think that that is an indication that he knows that his hands are tied," Frisby says.

If Obama wants Congress to play along, Republicans are going to demand something in return, says Bill Galston, a senior fellow in government studies at the Brookings Institution. He says that something is another round of budget cuts.

"And all of that is going to make it quite difficult for the president to propose new initiatives that will require additional spending," he says.

Galston says Obama has been aggressive in pushing his agenda without Congressional support. But Stanford's Frisby says few of those executive actions have directly helped the middle class.


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