President Barack Obama speaks at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting in Washington, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. Taunting Republicans, the president said it's "not an accident" that the economy is improving on his watch and that Republicans' "doom and gloom" predictions haven't come true. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama arrives to speak at an event to designate the Pullman neighborhood a national monument â€” commemorating African-Americans who served as porters, waiters and maids on the iconic Pullman sleeper cars, Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015, in Chicago. Obama also announced Browns National Monument in Colorado and Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
WASHINGTON — Taunting Republicans, President Barack Obama said Friday it's "not an accident" that the economy is improving under his watch and chided GOP critics for "doom and gloom" predictions that haven't come true.
Obama said he welcomed the attention Republicans have been giving to the middle class, "but so far at least the rhetoric has not matched the reality."
In a speech at the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting, Obama gave a rousing defense of his economic policies and promoted his agenda as the right policy and political prescriptions for Democrats heading into the 2016 elections. He said the party's belief in "middle class economics," including his health care law, has spurred economic growth and job creation.
"I just want everybody to remember that at every step as we made these policies, made this progress, we were told by our good friends the Republicans that our actions would crush jobs, explode deficits and destroy the country," he told the partisan crowd. But the evidence shows the policies are working, he said, and "We know their ideas don't work."
With the economic recovery showing signs of taking hold, Democrats and Republicans have turned their attention to improving wages for working class Americans. While incomes have increased modestly recently, they hardly make up for decades of paycheck stagnation.
Both sides, however, have distinctly different views of how to boost wages. Democrats want increases in the minimum wage, while Republicans call for fewer regulations and taxes on business to free more capital that could be used for wage growth.
Cory Fritz, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, dismissed Obama's policies as a "liberal agenda" that has left "America's working-class families behind."
"There's a reason why the Democratic Party has lost the House, the Senate, governorships and more than 900 state legislative seats in recent years," Fritz said.
While Obama said he was willing to hear Republican ideas for helping the middle class, he decried their past ideas and argued that the best way for Republicans to prove their commitment was by supporting his call for a higher minimum wage.
"If you are serious, if you are really troubled with income inequality," Obama said, "then you can't put forward proposals that give more tax breaks to folks who are doing the best."
Following his remarks, Obama attended a Democratic fundraiser with 25 supporters paying $33,400 each to attend.
Obama also addressed Democratic governors at the White House, distinguishing them from members of Congress. "Governors can't afford to just peddle an ideology," he said. "They have to actually make things work on behalf of their constituencies."
Obama praised the Democrats for working on issues that he said are top priorities for his administration, including raising wages, improving retirement, expanding health care and providing greater education opportunities.
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