Donald Lambro

The Gallup Poll recently asked Americans which issues should the government be making its top priorities. The two top concerns were "creating more jobs" and "helping the economy grow."

The issues that Obama has focused in the past several months -- gun control and immigration reform -- were ninth and tenth, respectively, in Gallup's list.

Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines improvise as "to make, invent, or arrange offhand," or to "fabricate out of what is conveniently on hand." That's what Obama has been doing this year.

He's been responding ad hoc to events or cherry-picking issues that appeal politically to his base, but not leading or shaping them. This isn't a dynamic agenda for change and he makes no pretense he has transformational ambitions to enact one.

"My intentions over the next three and a half year are to govern," Obama told a Democratic Party fundraiser in New York City last week. But to what end? For what purpose? Where are his big ideas? Alas, he has none. He certainly learned nothing about job creation in Texas.

But he wants his party's base to know that, if he's not willing to grapple with the large economic issues that still endanger our country future, he's very focused on the next election in 2014 when a number of vulnerable Democratic seats are up for grabs.

"If there are folks who are more interested in winning elections than they are thinking about the next generation, then I want to make sure there are consequences to that," the president said.

One of his big, time-consuming agendas on this year's schedule, is a long road show of political fundraisers and high-level planning for next year's midterm House and Senate elections.

At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, however, the focus has clearly been on the economy, though it gets little attention in the Washington news media. The Republican House has passed more than half a dozen bills in the past year aimed at strengthening job growth, only to see them die in the Democratic Senate.

The chairmen of the tax-writing panels in the Congress -- Max Baucus, who runs the Senate Finance Committee, and Dave Camp, who heads the House Ways and Means Committee -- are working together on a major overhaul of the tax code. Insiders tell me it will cleanse hundreds of billions of dollars in special interest loopholes and other tax preferences, while lowering the tax rates.

Where is Obama in this historic legislative movement? AWOL. He rarely talks about it. He isn't leading on it. And he isn't crazy about across-the-board reductions in the tax rates to boost the economy.

When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke went before the Joint Economic Committee Wednesday, he made it clear once again that there was only so much the Fed could do to improve the economy. This was also a job for Congress and for fiscal policy changes dealing with taxes and spending.

Last month, the anemic Obama economy produced just 165,000 jobs out of a workforce of 160 million -- far from the estimated 365,000 jobs a month needed to reduce the unemployment rate to 6 percent in the next three years.

Four years into the Reagan economic recovery, the economy was expanding at a 5.2 percent annual rate and jobs were plentiful again. In Obama's recovery, economic growth is expected to be a meek 1 and 2 percent in the second quarter.

And for most of the country, a good paying, full time job is still getting harder to find.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.



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