Obama agenda: Change comes only from the outside

AP: “Seeking to focus public attention on the problem he was sent to the White House to solve, President Barack Obama is making a renewed push for policies to expand the middle class, helping people he says are still treading water years after the financial meltdown. Obama will use a series of back-to-back speeches over two days to take another stab at selling the public on his vision of a thriving economy.”

Obama makes two speeches today on the economy, including what’s being billed as a major one at Knox College in Illinois. The president will speak about the economy again Thursday at the Jacksonville, Fla., Port Authority. “The trio of speeches comes as Congress prepares to leave Washington next week for its monthlong August recess,” AP writes. “These and other speeches planned for the coming weeks and months are designed to increase public pressure on lawmakers in hopes of avoiding showdowns over taxes and spending in the fall. The White House believes such stalemates will stunt the economy, which has added more than 200,000 jobs a month in the past six months. The new federal budget year begins Oct. 1 and the government will soon hit its borrowing limit.”

USA Today: “The struggles of this town [Galesburg, Ill.] are something that resonated deeply with President Obama long before he picked it as the site to launch his latest effort to refocus the national conversation on a sputtering economy. Months before the old Maytag plant here ran its last shift in 2004, the then Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate made the 3-hour drive from Chicago to meet with workers who had already received their pink slips after the maker of kitchen appliances decided to lay off all 1,600 workers and ship their jobs to Mexico.”

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on Afghanistan: What is underway now from the White House is the rebranding of the Afghan war from the war “we have to win” to the war we have to exit, with little conversation in between. It is almost as if policy makers fear the public will be reminded of its longest-ever war simply by discussing it. Or hope Americans will forget it if they don’t -- an objective made easier by the fact that less than one percent of the country is doing the nation’s fighting. 

A National Journal poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research finds that by a 48%-41% margin people think Obamacare will make things worse. There is a racial divide. By a 57%-34% margin, whites think it will make things worse. But by a 59%-29% margin, minorities think it will make things better. Among the uninsured, however, they think it will make things better by a 58%-30% margin. 

Politico on White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough’s efforts to calm Democrats’ worries about implementation of health care: “Armed with a PowerPoint presentation and a direct line to President Barack Obama, McDonough has spent the past three months soothing Democratic anxieties over the most divisive health care expansion in decades. He meets every other week with Baucus, briefs vulnerable Democrats on the administration’s progress and treks up to the Hill on a moment’s notice to visit offices unannounced. McDonough’s message: We’ve got this.”

“President Barack Obama congratulated the University of Louisville men’s basketball team on working toward a single goal — ‘to bust my bracket,’” AP writes. On Monday, President Obama will honor the San Francisco Giants for winning the 2012 World Series.

USA Today: “Powered by record profits in North American, Ford Motor said Wednesday that its net income increased in the second quarter to $1.2 billion, up $193 millionfrom $1 billion, on an increase of revenue from $38.1 billion, up $4.8 billion. The automaker's results smashed through analysts estimates and the automaker surprised Wall Street by saying it expects to do better in the second half than it earlier forecast.”