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Obama in Philly: 'I'm fired up!'

January 30, 2015
In The News

By William Bender, Daily News

PRESIDENT OBAMA flew into Philadelphia last night to invigorate a diminished House Democratic caucus and sketch out the party's national agenda for the next two years.

Speaking to a somewhat rowdy crew at the Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill Hotel, on Dock Street below 2nd, Obama called for new infrastructure investment and middle-class tax relief, closing special-interest tax loopholes and ending the across-the-board "sequestration" cuts in effect since 2013.

"The ground that middle-class families lost over the last 30 years still has to be made up, and the trends that have squeezed middle-class families - and those striving to get into the middle class - those trends have not been fully reversed," Obama said.

The 114th Congress could be a tough slog for Democrats, who got tuned up by Republicans in the November midterms.

But U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, a freshman Democrat representing parts of Northeast Philadelphia and Montgomery County, said GOP control of the House and Senate could actually be an incentive for Republicans to work with Obama.

"I think the next two years are going to be far more productive than the last two," Boyle said. "Republicans have shown themselves to be skilled in saying, 'No.' But if they want to have any hope of being successful in the 2016 presidential election, they have to show that they can achieve something. I think they are under pressure to deliver."

And the location of Obama's speech - about four blocks from Independence Hall - was appropriate, Boyle said.

"The U.S. Constitution was itself a compromise," he said. "Compromise is not a dirty word."

Obama, however, reiterated that he doesn't intend to run out the clock in his second term.

"We need to stand up and go on offense and not be defensive about what we believe in. That's why we're Democrats," he said. "I promise you, I'm not going out the last two years sitting on the sidelines. I am going to be out there making the case every single day, and I hope you join me."

After Obama stepped away from the podium, he grabbed his coffee and said: "I'm fired up!"

Prior to the president's arrival, Republican leaders were talking trash at the Penn's View Hotel on Front Street.

"How can President Obama and the Democrats say he is working to improve the quality of life for the American people while at the same time taking more and more of Americans' hard-earned money?" asked Pennsylvania Deputy GOP Chairman Renee Amoore. "He's talking about the middle class. Does he really know what the middle class needs?"

Obama was greeted at the airport by Mayor Nutter and Gov. Wolf. At the Sheraton, a sizable crowd of protesters chanted, "Hey, Obama, we don't want no pipeline drama," referring to the Keystone XL pipeline.

Boyle said he's been using this week's policy retreat to show off Philadelphia, which is competing with New York City and Columbus, Ohio, to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

"The timing could not be better," he said. "Every opportunity we get to showcase the city only helps build momentum."

Vice President Joe Biden is due in town this morning to address the Democratic caucus at the Sheraton.