US President Barack Obama plans to launch a new political initiative for the economy on Wednesday, with two speeches in the country's Midwestern heartland.
With appearances in Illinois - his home state - and neighbouring Missouri, Obama is to present his "vision" for rebuilding the economy that will put "the middle class and those fighting to join it front and centre," White House officials said.
The speeches are meant to refocus on the economy after distractions from a series of scandals and international crises, including the Syria civil war, the overthrow of Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, and fugitive intelligence contractor Edward Snowden's leaks about government surveillance programmes.
Backed by Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke, Obama charges that budget austerity policies imposed by conservative Republicans in Congress are undermining economic recovery. The International Monetery Fund estimates that the US economy will grow 1.7 per cent this year, with the unemployment rate hovering at 7.6 per cent.
Obama will speak first at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where he held his first major speech on economic policy as a senator in 2005. He is expected to chart his vision in broad strokes.
In the second speech at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Obama is expected to outline details of his plans.
Parallel to the speeches, the Commerce Department will hold a "global investment summit" on Wednesday with ambassadors and top corporate executives to explore ways to make the US more attractive to global businesses, officials said.
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