WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama on Tuesday said that the US economy had suffered a "heart attack" and survived but is not recuperating quickly enough, as he geared up to unveil a major jobs plan.

Obama appeared on the "Tom Joyner Morning Show" in what also appeared to be an effort to reach out to black voters following criticism by African American leaders that he has not sufficient courted their community.

"What we went through, was the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and typically after financial recessions, financial crises like this, it takes a long time for the patient to heal," Obama said.

"This is a situation where the economy essentially had a heart attack, and the patient lived, and the patient is getting better, but it?s getting better very slowly."

Obama is preparing a major speech on jobs and deficit cutting next week which is designed to revive his own declining political prospects ahead of the 2012 election and to jolt the stagnant recovery back to life.

Republicans who run the House of Representatives advocate steep spending cuts and want to roll back regulations on small businesses and have already signaled a frosty reception for Obama's new program.

But the president argued that should Republicans, who have made no secret of their desire to deprive him of a second term, block his initiative, he will ask voters to make them pay in 2012.

"My attitude is that my job is to present the best plans possible. Congress needs to act.

"If Congress does not act, then I'm going to be going on the road and talking to folks, and this next election very well may end up being a referendum on whose vision of America is better."

Obama also dwelt on the problems faced by African American voters with their disproportionally high unemployment rate, after some community leaders complained in a story by the Politico website that he had neglected those core supporters.

"The fact of the matter is that when you occupy this office, when things are going good then you get the credit, and when things are going tough then you get the blame," said Obama, the United States' first African American president.

"That's the nature of the office. And so I don't spend a lot of time thinking about that. I do spend a lot of time thinking about what can we do to make sure that this economy starts growing faster."