The president gives speeches all the time, but the White House is very eager to highlight the speech he’ll be giving around noon today at Knox College that’s supposed to kick off a series of speeches laying out his economic policy vision for the country.
This is not quite how the administration characterizes the effort, but I’d say that to understand what they’re doing you have to go back to the fact that Barack Obama started running for president in 2007 and he had an economic policy agenda back then. This was a time when the country wasn’t in financial crisis, wasn’t losing hundreds of thousands of jobs a month, and wasn’t gripped by bizarre hostage-taking behavior in Congress. But it was a time when the country had been dealing with sluggish wage growth, increasing affordability problems in the realms of health care and education, and rising inequality. He had an agenda that he thought would address those issues, and for most of 2007 and 2008 he campaigned on that agenda.
But then came the financial crisis. And after the financial crisis came a bunch of real and imagined budget crises. And while that long-term agenda never went away (they passed the health care bill, after all), it went a bit out of the public eye. So now from the vantage point of 2013 and looking forward to a new debt ceiling standoff, the administration would like to elevate the dialogue and talk about that longer-term agenda.
Frankly, I’m a little skeptical that it can work. The dynamics of the appropriations process and the debt ceiling all but guarantee that they’ll end up monopolizing coverage after the August recess. But a longer-term focus would be nice.