Washington (CNN) - President Obama and Republicans again focused on job creation and the economy in their weekly addresses Saturday, returning to an issue that remains at the front of Americans' minds as millions continue to face unemployment and a lagging job market.
Obama, speaking from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, tied his decision earlier this week to withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of summer 2012 to jumpstarting the economy.
"That's in the best interests of America's security," Obama said. "And it's also in the best interests of America's economy. Even though we've turned our economy in the right direction over the past couple of years, many Americans are still hurting, and now is the time to focus on nation building here at home."
Republicans used their address to criticize the president for what they said were misguided attempts to spur the job market.
"Unfortunately, the Democrats who run Washington say we should stay the course, keep spending money we don't have, and raise your taxes – all in the name of 'stimulus,'" Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-North Carolina, said. "These Washington-knows-best policies haven't worked. They have only made matters worse."
Ellmers said plans laid out by Republicans offered alternatives that would help small business owners begin hiring.
"Our approach starts with reducing the regulatory burden small businesses face and making Washington bureaucrats factor jobs into their decision-making process," Ellmers said. "Instead of knee-jerk reactions to high gas prices, we propose expanding domestic energy production to help lower costs and create jobs."
In his remarks, Obama made clear he was open to working with Republicans on improving the economy.
“Of course, there's been a real debate about where to invest and where to cut, and I'm committed to working with members of both parties to cut our deficits and debt,” Obama said.
In a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll taken June 3-7, 81 percent of Americans said the economic condition in the country was “poor.” Fifty-one percent said the economy was “extremely important” to their vote for president. That survey had a sampling error of 3 percentage points.