White House: It’s ‘all economy, all the time’ for the president

President Obama is turning his focus squarely toward the economy as the traditional campaign season begins.

Obama will travel to two battleground states next week to tout the economy, and also plans on introducing a package of new ideas to bolster a weak recovery that is hampering his party’s hopes for retaining the House and Senate.

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“All economy all the time,” is how one White House official described the president's week ahead.

The president has offered no new details about his proposals, but they are expected to include business tax breaks that would serve as a nod to the GOP.

Republican aides on Friday said they would wait to see what Obama proposes before commenting.

“If it’s like everything else they’ve done, they’ll offer it in such a way that it’s impossible to support,” said one skeptical Republican Senate aide.

The push on the economy comes after a week in which Obama’s attention was on foreign policy. The president made his second Oval Office address to the country on Tuesday to discuss the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq. The next day, he launched Middle East peace talks hosted by the State Department.

Yet even the end of the Iraq mission was framed in economic terms. In his address, Obama signaled the U.S. needed to focus on its economy and budget deficit by ending the war in Iraq, and by removing troops from Afghanistan next year.

Obama will mark Labor Day by speaking in Milwaukee at a picnic sponsored by the AFL-CIO. He’ll then travel to Ohio on Wednesday to make remarks on the economy. Obama will conclude the week with a press conference – his first in several months – on Friday.

At some point, Obama will offer specifics on the proposals his economic team is considering. They are said to include a payroll tax holiday for businesses, something economists have said could provide an immediate stimulus to the economy.

With unemployment inching up again in Friday's jobs reports and new polls showing a disastrous November for Democrats, Obama and his economic team are searching desperately for legislation that can be passed in a short window and have a stimulative effect.



In remarks Friday on the economy, Obama focused on a small business tax cut and loan program, currently in the Senate, the center-point of his immediate economic efforts.


But he also talked about his confidence that Republicans and Democrats could come together on some proposals to speed up the economic recovery. Obama said a recovery is taking place, but not at the speed he’d hope.

“That’s why we need to take further steps to create jobs and keep the economy growing, including extending tax cuts for the middle class and investing in the areas of our economy where the potential for job growth is greatest,” Obama said Friday. “In the weeks ahead, I’ll be discussing some of these ideas in more detail."

Larry Berman, a political science professor at the University of California-Davis, said that by pursuing policies that are more in line with what Republicans would prescribe for the ailing recovery, voters are seeing “Obama the pragmatist.”

“It’s not so much a move to the middle as it is a move away from the ideological ground he had previously staked for himself,” Berman said. “His jumper cables must have a short, so he’s decided to borrow a neighbors.”