But congressional Republicans, who continue to be a roadblock for many of the president's economic proposals, dismissed the White House's new public relations push as a retread of old ideas.
"We've seen this song and dance before," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. "Whether it's his health care law, his job-destroying energy policies, or the mountain of regulations piling up, it's the president's own policies that are responsible for this new normal of weak economic growth and high unemployment."
Still, the timing of Obama's latest economic initiative underscores the degree to which jobs and growth have been overshadowed in Washington since the president began his second term. That's been driven in part by the White House, which has invested significant time on other areas of the president's agenda, including the failed effort to enact stricter gun laws and the push for immigration reform, which succeeded in the Senate but faces an uncertain future in the House.
"Here's the thing: It will be a pretty good speech," Obama said. "But I've given some pretty good speeches before. And things still get stuck here in Washington, which is why I'm going to need your help."
A series of foreign policy crises, like the Syrian civil war and Egyptian coup, have also competed for the White House's attention. So have a flurry of recent controversies, including the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of political groups, the Justice Department's seizure of journalists' phone records, and renewed attention on the investigation into the deadly attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
All the while, the economy has slowly but steadily improved. The housing market is coming back, the stock market is on the rise and consumer confidence is near its highest levels of Obama's presidency. Nationwide unemployment is also falling, though at 7.6 percent, it still remains high.