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Transition 2012

A guide to foreign policy and the 2012 U.S. presidential transition.

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Midday Update: Obama Urges Congress to Act on Economy

by Newsteam Staff
June 8, 2012

Photo of the Day: President Barack Obama speaks about the economy in the White House Press Briefing Room in Washington, June 8, 2012 (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters) Photo of the Day: President Barack Obama speaks about the economy at the White House, June 8, 2012 (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)


In a speech this morning at the White House on the economy, President Barack Obama tried to pump up support for his economic agenda (WashPost), calling on members of Congress to pass legislation to create jobs and spur growth.

“If Congress decides not do anything about all this because it’s an election year, they should explain to the American people why,” he said. “There will be plenty of time to debate our respective plans for the future, a debate I’m eager to have, but right now people in this town should be focused on doing everything they can to keep the recovery going.”

Obama also pressed Europe’s leaders to take “decisive” action to stimulate growth as part of their efforts to tackle the ongoing eurozone sovereign debt crisis (Bloomberg), while warning that the situation is dragging down the U.S. and global economies.

In a broad speech about the free-market economy, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney Thursday painted himself as a champion of the free-enterprise system who plans to right the U.S. economy with lower taxes, looser regulations, increased trade, and more domestic energy production.

Romney drew distinctions between his proposed economic policies and those of Obama, arguing that the administration has stymied the U.S. economic recovery.

“This is not just a failure of policy; it is a moral failure of tragic proportions. Our government has an absolute moral commitment to help every American help themselves, and today that fundamental commitment has been broken,” Romney said.

In a Fox News poll released Thursday, Romney topped Obama on economic issues, while voters continued to favor Obama’s foreign policy.

Fifty-one percent of those polled said Romney was likely to cut government spending, while 46 percent showed confidence in his economic proposals. Of those polled, 43 percent also said they favored Romney on “handling illegal immigration,” compared to 36 percent that thought Obama would do a better job.

Forty-nine percent of those polled preferred Obama on foreign policy, while 38 percent favored Romney. Obama also got high marks on eduction, with 52 percent approving of his policies.

While Obama and Romney have battled recently over how to handle the violence in Syria, foreign policy is not a major issue for voters this election cycle (PRI). Analysts say foreign policy experience doesn’t always translate into votes, especially when the economy is the preeminent issue on the national agenda.

“The problem is that in an election where the economy is issue one, two, and three, it’s very dangerous for the Obama administration to go forward saying, ‘You know what matters is foreign policy,'” political scientist Daniel W. Drezner told PRI. “It’s not that that’s wrong necessarily, it’s that the political signal it sends is: We care more about what’s going on in the rest of the world than jobs at home.”

— Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor


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