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– 2 days ago

Time to Focus on the Economy Again… For Like a Week…


With news that unemployment is stalled despite job gains, Obama has decided to focus on the economy now.

With several controversies fading and a period of intense foreign travel over, President Obama is narrowing his focus this summer to two issues, immigration and the economy, that could help determine the success or failure of his second term. …

The president also plans a series of summertime events focused on steps the government can take to drive economic growth, aides said. Many in the White House see a Sept. 30 deadline to renew government funding as probably the last opportunity for Obama to scale back the deep domestic spending cuts known as sequestration before the 2014 midterm elections.

For those keeping score, here is a little recap of the “NOW, we’re REALLY going to focus on the economy, and we mean FOCUS HARD” stories that have become the hallmark of the Obama Administration.

First there was 2009.  Obama had been elected based on an economic message, savaging Bush and claiming it was all thos pesky Republicans’ fault. By the end of 2009, he had already become so distracted that USA Today thought it was news that he needed to get back to a focus on the economy.

So in the midst of major decisions on Afghanistan, health care and climate change, the president today turns his attention back to a problem he tried to solve already — and one that’s sure to dominate next year’s elections, when his Democratic majorities in Congress will be at stake.

After a humbling loss in Massachusetts, Obama turned his attention to the economy again.  In January of 2010, CNN announced that he was going to take a fresh look after getting pummeled.

President Obama already was planning to put a heavy focus on jobs and the economy in next week’s State of the Union address, but his top aides are signaling that pivot is going to be even sharper in the wake of the Democrats’ stunning election defeat in Massachusetts.

His focus didn’t last long, however. Just eight months later the New York Times noted that Obama was AGAIN turning his focus to the economy.

President Obama, seeking to pivot from foreign affairs to the economy, will kick off the campaign season next week with trips to Milwaukee and Cleveland, followed by a White House news conference.

Another beating at the polls in November of 2010 prompted Obama supporter Colin Powell to comment that the President had not focused on the economy.

While saying he talks regularly with President Obama and his administration’s officials, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday that the nation’s 44th president has overreached and lost focus in his first term — and lost votes because of it.

The New York Times responded in January of 2011 cheering Obama’s new economic team and renewed focus on the economy.

After two years of responding to the economic crisis he inherited, Mr. Obama starts the second half of his term managing the slow recovery and building on what he calls a “foundation” for growth. In his view, this includes the two-year stimulus package with its increases for education, research and work-training programs; stronger financial industry regulations; the overhaul of the health care system; and, most recently, the tax cuts that Mr. Obama and Republican leaders agreed to last month.

A month later, Politico noted that the crisis in Egypt had distracted him, but gosh darn it, Obama was back and more focused than ever on the economy.

The president’s shift back to the economy comes at a time when much of the country and the world remain transfixed by the chaos in Egypt, its push for democracy and whether Obama will guide President Hosni Mubarak more forcefully toward an exit from power. Yet analysts say the White House can’t afford to be distracted from its economic message, particularly since the federal budget is due Feb. 14 and January’s unemployment numbers will be released Friday.

By August, however, the focus was elsewhere again and Huffington Post noted a bus tour ginned up to put the attention back on the economy.

Obama complained that Washington has been “absorbed” by the crisis of a looming default, but American families are still facing a “quiet crisis” of persistently high unemployment. He promised to make job-creating measures his top priority when Congress returns from vacation — including pending trade deals, extending payroll tax cuts and overhauling patent laws.

In less than a year, apparently they got distracted again. The New York Times (this time with accompanying picture of Obama in a living room talking to ‘real folk’) noted Obama putting the economy front and center again – just in time for his re-election campaign.

The White House and the Obama campaign have been eager to promote initiatives to spur the housing market and to put more money in homeowners’ pockets, not only because the housing slump remains a drag on the economy.

After that election, the American people said Obama really needed to focus on jobs, and it looked like he might.  His State of the Union address just 5 months ago touted the return to a focus on the economy.

White House press secretary Jay Carney made the case Monday that jobs and the economy, which public opinion polls show are the top concerns of most Americans, remain issues of primary importance to the Obama administration.

It’s amazing how easy it is for this Administration to lose focus on the economy. When historians look back on news articles from the eight years of Obamanomics, they’ll be left with the inescapable conclusion that some sort of attention deficit disorder was rampant in the White House. Perhaps they need an industrial-strength dose of Adderall.



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Written by Michael Turk