WASHINGTON - Five months into his improvisational second term, a sluggish economy and severe jobless rate seem to have vanished from President Obama's agenda.
That is, if he had a substantive second term agenda to begin with. He certainly didn't focus on the economy in his re-election bid. He didn't run on any bold new initiatives to create millions of new jobs and get the economy growing at a stronger, faster pace. The economy was on auto-pilot.
The Washington Post took the White House and Capitol Hill to task Tuesday, complaining that "Washington has all but abandoned efforts to help the economy recover faster..."
"There are no serious negotiations underway between the White House and congressional leaders on legislation to spur growth and no bipartisan 'gangs' of senators are huddling to craft a compromise, job-creation package," the Post said.
You don't hear anyone in the Obama administration addressing this matter, even though the economic growth rate remains critically anemic by historical standards. Over 11.5 million Americans are still searching for a job. Some 4 million people have been jobless for six months or more. A nationwide Washington Post-ABC News poll this month found that two-thirds of Americans surveyed said jobs were hard to find where they lived.
However, Obama continues to ignore the economy. He won re-election when it was barely growing at 0.4 percent in November, so he figures it can't hurt him now. Instead, he's been zigging and zagging, making up an agenda of sorts as he goes along.
One day, the White House remembers that the Senate is working on an immigration bill and puts out a statement urging its passage -- though the West Wing's had nothing to with designing its key provisions or moving the process along.
Earlier this month, it dawned on Obama's advisers that he hadn't said much about the economy for quite awhile. So he made a photo-op, fly by visit to Texas to talk about jobs, but uttered no new ideas about how to create more of them.
Obama's handlers chose a politically convenient state to visit. The jobless rate in the Republican-run Lone Star state -- where taxes are low and regulations tame -- is a low 6.4 percent. GOP Gov. Rick Perry told the president that if he wants to see how jobs are created, "he came to the right state."
Why didn't Obama visit his Democratic-run home state of Illinois where the unemployment rate is 9.3 percent? In his hometown of Chicago, it's 10 percent. Why not drop in on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's state of Nevada where the jobless rate is 9.6 percent?