Eyes on the ball: Obama’s Magical Economy Tour has a purpose

Under every rock, Obamacare.

The president is launching a new, campaign-style tour to “lay out his agenda for reinvigorating the economy.”

According to New York Times reporters Michael D. Shear and Jonathan Weisman, Obama’s strategy is “aimed at giving him credit for the improving job market and lifting his rhetoric beyond the Beltway squabbles that have often consumed his presidency.”

Rush Limbaugh, talking this morning about the Magical Economy Tour, suggested that Obama would be able to convince a good number of Americans that prosperity is on the horizon ahead of us, if we will follow his policies.  Obama will emphasize his belief that – contrary to JFK’s aphorism about a rising tide lifting all boats – economic strength emanates out from the middle; i.e., from the middle class.  He will focus on rhetoric claiming to support and empower the middle class.

Most importantly, he will marshal every positive economic statistic he can in an effort to convince citizens that things are better than they were, better than the Republicans say, better than the evidence of people’s own lives tells them – and that things will only get more so.

Now, all of this sounds like ordinary political boilerplate, and I think Rush is correct in assessing that Obama’s goal is to change the public narrative about the economy, and ultimately change people’s minds about it.  But the timing is interesting to me.  The Magical Economy Tour will reportedly run for the next two months.  The 2014 Congressional election is more than a year away, in terms of the prime voter-attention-span window.  I think Obama’s tour has a nearer-term objective.

What key item on Obama’s agenda is actually in trouble right now?  And which one has a major deadline on 1 October 2013 – the turn of the fiscal year – a little over two months from now?  That’s right: Obamacare.

In a tacit concession to its unworkability, the president suspended implementation of the employer mandate until after the 2014 election, a (probably illegal) move so transparent that toddlers must be poking fun at it.  Democrats are turning against Obamacare in Congress, dozens of them having voted with House Republicans last week to delay the employer mandate and even to delay the individual mandate.  Media coverage of Obamacare is turning negative, even in the MSM and the leftosphere.  Now The Hill, which covers Congressional action on Capitol Hill, is doing its best to depict tentative Republican threats of a government shutdown after 30 September, over Obamacare funding, as an impending crisis.

I suspect most Americans who oppose Obamacare think there is no immediate prospect of repealing it, and that the House probably can’t do much other than shave it a bit on the margins until there’s a Republican Senate and a Republican in the Oval Office.  But Obama’s unilateral delay of the employer mandate provoked a wave of negative press, and that is unusual for him.

Defecting Democrats are a bad sign too:  in the next couple of years, if enough Democrats want to start taking bites out of Obamacare’s most onerous and unpopular provisions, Congress really can prevent a full implementation of the program.  If the individual mandate can be eliminated, Obamacare has nowhere to go.  And in the short term – two months from now – the House Republican threat to withhold funding for Obamacare implementation could have some teeth.  At the very least, it could force negotiation and compromise.

The Obamacare debate has the aspect of a turning tide right now: a tide turning against Obama.

But there is nothing Team Obama wants more than to ensure that the state insurance exchanges start up, and that people start signing up for them.  Nothing.  Literally.

Obama also wants the states that have signed on for the Medicaid boondoggle to stay the course.  He is willing to delay the most politically explosive aspect of Obamacare – the employer mandate, the one that hits the unions and thousands of small businesses hard – to keep the dependency-building measures on track under the radar:  the measures that sign on more and more dependents for the government program.  Those measures require, precisely, funding for Obamacare in the 2014 budget.

Observing all his moves in context, I don’t think Obama’s latest “pivot to the economy” is either a random propaganda effort or a mere political tactic.  It looks like a strategy to get out in front of the narrative on Obamacare, which is turning negative and becoming a problem for the president, two months before Obamacare’s most important 2013 deadline.  If he can own the popular narrative about the economy, Obama will improve his position vis-à-vis Republicans in the Obamacare budget showdown.

The implication will be that if the economy is getting better and will continue to, we can afford Obamacare.  After all, Obamacare is the president’s signature program for empowering the middle class and growing the economy from the middle out.  The Republicans are just being obstructionist.

I don’t necessarily expect Obama to lay this out explicitly and systematically.  He rarely does, when talking policy. His most explicit moments are his philosophical ones, when he talks in Frankfurt School-Marxist soundbites.  When it comes to economic policy, we will have to divine his meanings as we always do, by threading our way among the high-flown rhetoric, the strawmen, and the snark grenades.

But if this comparatively disengaged, noncommittal president has a pattern, it is one of doing whatever he has to, to make his highest-priority agenda items stick.  There is no agenda item higher for him than getting as many Americans as possible dependent on government-run health “insurance.”  Making sure the first step in that process goes off without a funding hitch is the urgent purpose behind the Magical Economy Tour.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard online. She also writes for the new blog Liberty Unyielding.

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7 thoughts on “Eyes on the ball: Obama’s Magical Economy Tour has a purpose”

  1. Sometimes you’re just to good at this Optcon.

    You’ve nailed this one.

    I hope BHO isn’t going to start getting any Slick Willie notions about saving his presidency through diverting attention from his domestic difficulties, by getting us involved in some manufactured foreign adventure.

    This isn’t the Nineties. And the thought of BHO as CinC in a hot engagement conjures up images of Ephialtes in command at the defense of Thermopylae in my head…


    Psychotic or not, I miss Fuster. Has he finally been renditioned to parts unknown?

    If you (justly) put him in the dog house, I respectfully plead for clemency. 🙂

  2. LOL — Obama is pretty transparent, which can be both good and bad. He never does anything he doesn’t absolutely have to do. If he’s mounting a Magical Economy Tour, it’s in service of something he actually cares about. The timeframe indicates that it’s making sure Obamacare is funded for 2014.

    I hope, with you, that we don’t get involved in any foreign adventures. I really, really hope we don’t use military force in Syria. Team Obama will handle it so badly. I can’t wish that on my shipmates (of all services).

    Haven’t heard from fuster. He’s welcome back as long as he doesn’t deal in innuendo about people: me or my TOC readers. If he thinks he has a case about something, he can state it in a declarative sentence, the way everyone else does.

    1. Ah domestic politics, bread and circuses…Some things never change.

      On foreign affairs I’m not usually this alarmist. But recent events suggest the MENA is on the brink of a major upheaval, and I don’t mean “Arab Spring” style BS. Too many matches put to too many fuses by too many players.

      So far the situation is somewhat contained. But there is a serious possibility that the dynamics of all these events will escape the control of (what’s left of) the Great Powers by the end of the 2013… Unless somebody throws some water on the fire soon. Who that could be in the absence of American leadership I don’t know.

      All this had to occur on this political leadership’s watch of course.

  3. That’s some pretty savvy divining there J.E.

    I hope Congress doesn’t fund the Obamacare subsidies, thus depriving Obama of the needed dependency of the citizenry on these subsidies. I was mortally wounded (twice over!) when Obamacare wasn’t undone first by the Supreme Court (still bitter at Justice Roberts for his pretzel-like legal reasoning), and then by Obama’s re-election. We’re running out of arrows in the quiver to overturn what is one of the worst pieces of legislation to ever be passed.

    1. Yeah, RE, the next 60 days are critical. Rubio was on Fox last night talking about the Republican push to suspend the individual mandate and look hard at O-care funding in the 2014 budget.

      Last week I was starting to feel a touch optimistic about what the Republicans might achieve in Congress on this. It really can be gutted a sliver at a time, if the right slivers are carved out.

      But Obama’s going to throw himself into winning back the thematic political landscape for this showdown. The political environment won’t remain static between now and 1 Oct. I suspect most of the Republicans won’t see it coming. After all, the MSM and all of Washington are comfortably opining that Obama’s just “pivoting” to get away from his various scandals.

      Why would he need to, when stonewalling them is getting the job done? He does only what he has to. He’s trying to shape the environment for a win on the O-care showdown for 2014.

  4. Outstanding analysis. Barry never does anything without a self-serving purpose. And I think you’ve nailed it.

    How sad that we have 4 more years of this worthless, divisive, godless person at the helm. Fortunately, he is stuck in the past, with all the failed liberal policies. And no one, but no one (except Chris Matthews) can stand to listen to his endless and boring speeches. the length of his speeches gives him away as the Manchurian candidate of the far left — only Castro’s and Chavez’s speeches were longer.

  5. “Fortunately, he is stuck in the past, with all the failed liberal policies.”

    Amen, Darkness. That’s actually one of his biggest weaknesses. He’s stuck in about 1964, along with his ’60s radical cohort, while the rest of the world has moved on. Nothing they thought we needed back then even applies to a real-world situation anymore.

    It’s becoming so blindingly obvious, most Americans have to see it, in some form, by the end of the next couple of years.

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