Syria debate on hold, Obama refocuses on agenda

Obama tells his Cabinet there is still a lot left to do, and polls show the economy, jobs and health care remain top concerns for Americans.
Associated Press
Sep 14, 2013

With a military strike against Syria on hold, President Barack Obama tried Thursday to reignite momentum for his second-term domestic agenda. But his progress could hinge on the strength of his standing on Capitol Hill after what even allies acknowledge were missteps in the latest foreign crisis.

"It is still important to recognize that we have a lot of things left to do here in this government," Obama told his Cabinet, starting a sustained White House push to refocus the nation on matters at home as key benchmarks on the budget and health care rapidly approach.

"The American people are still interested in making sure that our kids are getting the kind of education they deserve, that we are putting people back to work," Obama said.

The White House plans to use next week's five-year anniversary of the 2008 financial collapse to warn Republicans that shutting down the government or failing to raise the debt limit could drag down the still-fragile economy. With Hispanic Heritage Month to begin Monday, Obama is also expected to press for a stalled immigration overhaul and urge minorities to sign up for health care exchanges beginning Oct. 1.

Among the events planned for next week is a White House ceremony highlighting Americans working on immigrant and citizenship issues. Administration officials will also promote overhaul efforts at naturalization ceremonies across the country. On Sept. 21, Obama will speak at the Congressional Black Caucus Gala, where he'll trumpet what the administration says are benefits of the president's health care law for African-Americans and other minorities.

Two major factors are driving Obama's push to get back on track with domestic issues after three weeks of Syria dominating the political debate. Polls show the economy, jobs and health care remain Americans' top concerns. And Obama has a limited window to make progress on those matters in a second term, when lame-duck status can quickly creep up on presidents, particularly if they start losing public support.

Obama already is grappling with some of the lowest approval ratings of his presidency. A Pew Research Center/USA Today poll out this week put his approval at 44 percent. That's down from 55 percent at the end of 2012.

Potential military intervention in Syria also is deeply unpopular with many Americans, with a Pew survey finding that 63 percent opposing the idea. And the president's publicly shifting positions on how to respond to a deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria also have confused many Americans and congressional lawmakers.

"In times of crisis, the more clarity the better," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a strong supporter of U.S. intervention in Syria. "This has been confusing. For those who are inclined to support the president, it's been pretty hard to nail down what the purpose of a military strike is."

For a time, the Obama administration appeared to be barreling toward an imminent strike in retaliation for the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack. But Obama made a sudden reversal and instead decided to seek congressional approval for military action.

Even after administration officials briefed hundreds of lawmakers on classified intelligence, there appeared to be limited backing for a use-of-force resolution on Capitol Hill. Rather than face defeat, Obama asked lawmakers this week to postpone any votes while the U.S. explores the viability of a deal to secure Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles.

That pause comes as a relief to Obama and many Democrats eager to return to issues more in line with the public's concerns. The most pressing matters are a Sept. 30 deadline to approve funding to keep the government open — the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1 — and the start of sign-ups for health care exchanges, a crucial element of the health care overhaul.

On Wednesday, a revolt by tea party conservatives forced House Republican leaders to delay a vote on a temporary spending bill written to head off a government shutdown. Several dozen staunch conservatives are seeking to couple the spending bill with a provision to derail implementation of the health care law.

The White House also may face a fight with Republicans over raising the nation's debt ceiling this fall. While Obama has insisted he won't negotiate over the debt limit, House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday said the GOP will insist on curbing spending.

"You can't talk about increasing the debt limit unless you're willing to make changes and reforms that begin to solve the spending problem that Washington has," the Ohio Republican said.

 

Comments

Contango

Re: "President Barack Obama tried Thursday to reignite momentum for his second-term domestic agenda."

The Lame Duck-in Chief's political flailing reminds me of someone who "throws spaghetti against the wall and sees what sticks."

Domestic policy this wk, foreign policy that wk, domestic policy the wk. before that, on and on ad nauseam.

He DESPARATELY needs to get back to what he does BEST - flying across the country campaigning to his dumbed down sycophants.

BTW: Reports are that Syria has been scattering their chemical weapons across the country.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/...

shucks

Your rantings and ravings are predictable and boring.

deertracker

Amen!

coasterfan

Contango: Lame duck status is only granted to someone who has lost an attempt to be re-elected, yet has to finish out his present term. Obama would be the opposite, since he WON re-election.

The President is doing his job exactly as a President should do. He works on his agenda, and when something big interferes (9/11, Syria), he deals with it, while still trying to manage the other important issues.

Neither party has a monopoly on smart people or dumb people, but it's well known that a higher % of college graduates are Democrats.

Contango

Re: "Lame duck status,"

Nope. In this sense it means that he's ineffective in getting his policies or agenda enacted.

College grads? H*ll approx. 60% of them can't find jobs and many are up to their eyeballs in debt - Nothing to brag about.

2cents

"what he does BEST - flying across the country"

Ha! And I thought it was playing more golf games than any other president in history?

Contango

Have you seen the help Obama start WW3 video?

http://voices.suntimes.com/early...

2cents

LOL, been running a lathe all day making prototypes that video made me laugh and was worth it. Oops, forgot to eat dinner : )

Huron_1969

The Middle East and Russia conflicts have just begun..... it will rear up again and the next time it will be worse. Putin has the upper hand and is well on his way to making Russia a superpower once again. As long as we have a weakened military and economy along with divided leadership, he will be unstoppable

deertracker

You sound ridiculous!

Huron_1969

You lack substanance and sound like a child

thinkagain

Amen!

Contango

Re: "it will rear up again and the next time it will be worse."

Agreed. The Sunnis and the Shiites will be killing each other for the love of Allah for the next several decades.

Wait until somebody nukes somebody and then all hell is gonna break lose!

Huron_1969

But the big boys, Russia and China are leveraging and fueling the regional conflicts to their advantage and will gain from the spoils in the form of power and money. Control of oil and shipping lanes is driving the escalation. As long as the USA is in a weak position, they will be able to move forward

Contango

Re: "Control of oil,"

"Wildcatter Hunch Unlocks $1.5 Trillion Oil Offshore U.S."

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/20...

If our Windmill-in-Chief would get his green head out of his *ss, the U.S. has the REAL possibility of becoming far less dependent upon Middle East energy.

THAT would change the dynamics.

We're been running around the world for the past couple of decades, spending our men, materiel and resources trying to repair the damages caused by the British and French empires from 100 or so yrs. ago - (bleep) 'em!

coasterfan

@ Contango: Yes, let's listen to Republicans for "ideas" on energy. Ideas from the 1950's, that is...

Then we can talk to Mr. Christie for some scintillating diet ideas...

Contango

Re: " let's listen to Republicans for "ideas" on energy. Ideas from the 1950's, that is..."

Why the h*ll is it a partisan thing? LA Dems are supportive of Gulf oil production.

Sometimes the tried and true is best.

To think that oil & nat-gas won't be the main energy sources for several decades to come is naïve.

Other than oil (and Israel) what the h*ll are we wasting men and materiel (bleeping) around in the Middle East?

Wanna bet that STRS has assets in the oil and gas industry???

Contango

Re: "talk to Mr. Christie for some scintillating diet ideas..."

Or a member of the Kennedy crime family about fidelity in marriage?

shucks

"Or a member of the Kennedy crime family about fidelity in marriage?"

It's been hinted that you've been through a few marriages.
What are your reasons?

Contango

Re: "few marriages."

Off-topic.

However, as unfounded as the drinking.

You're like a dog who eats it's own feces - chow down!

shucks

By your own words: you drink one brand in the day
then switch to another later.

Unfounded, huh ?

Truth is not expected from you , the consummate liar.

Contango

"By your own words: you drink one brand in the day
then switch to another later."

Off-topic.

However, you're full of sh*t 4sh*t.

shucks

Does Johnny Walker and Dewars sound familiar ?

Consummate moron .

Hell, you're drunk now.

Contango

Re: "Does Johnny Walker and Dewars sound familiar ?"

"you drink one brand in the day then switch to another later."

Off-topic.

Not in the same day 4sh*t.

shucks

Liar in chief is what YOU are.

Contango

Have a good evening 4sh*t.

shucks

Loser

The Big Dog's back

Putin has the upper hand?? Upper hand in what? He/s now responsible for Syria and their chemical weapons. Have at it Vladdie.

Huron_1969

Just read the "Putin Diary"
Mar '10 - man will winter ever end, really getting bored
Apr '10 - bunch of young people got together and talked about the freedom of the press, so I threw 'em in jail
Jun '10 - got an odd voice mail from that Assad guy over in Syria, better call him back
Jul '10 - darn gay rights activists are bugging me, so I threw a couple of them in jail
Aug '10 - crap, I forgot all about Assad... glad he sent me a Facebook friend request
Sep '10 - I'm really enjoying my new friendship with Assad, I think he'll be my new BFF
Oct '10 - bunch of locals are complaining about the trash in the streets in downtown Moscow, better throw 'em in jail
Nov '10 - winter is really setting in, time to load up on vodka and hibernate
Mar '11 - great time texting Assad all winter, he really cracks me up
Apr '11 - next week is Assad's birthday, I think I'll send him a bunch of tanks and rocket launchers
May '11 - things are getting really divided in the USA. I don't have to do anything, they seem to be doing it to themselves
Jun '11 - talked to BFF about getting back our super-power status.... this could be fun
Jul '11 - trying to figure out what's going on in the USA, think I better ignore them for a while, they are confusing me
Aug '11 - getting really excited about the 2014 Winter Games, wonder if the other world leaders want to have a snow ball fight - I win !
Sep '11 - sent Assad some chemicals, too bad I misplaced the shipping receipt
Oct '11 - can't find that password to unlock those folks I threw in prison. Oh well, that'll teach 'em
Nov '11 - time to hunker down for winter, sure hope this years vodka is as good as last years
Jun '13 - busy busy busy, sending arms to Assad, watching the Americans spin every other day, arresting civilians, keeping up with all my Fanatic Book friends. Just wish I could find that password for the prison
Jul '13 - great photo shoot - love taking my shirt off. Maybe someday I'll be on the cover of SI
Aug '13 - things are getting interesting, Assad's brother used a bunch of those chemicals. Glad I lost the shipping receipts. Note to self, look for that prison password
Sep '13 - looking good for the old country. Quick chat in the corner and they're gonna send the chemicals back to me. I got'em all where I want 'em. Even sent a nasty letter about Obama to NYT and so many Americans think I'm a good guy mwahahaha
Oct '13 - at this rate, they're gonna give me a new nickname.... "Putin on the Ritz". Super power status here we come !

coasterfan

Huron: Weakened military? America spends more on defense than the next fourteen (14) countries combined. We are anything but weak when it comes to defense.

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