Political strategist Doug Schoen says President Barack Obama's new economic road show is a desperate measure directed at both members of Congress and the American public.
"He is trying to pin the blame on Congress for the inaction and dysfunctionality that we see in the nation's capital," Schoen told Newsmax TV Tuesday. "But he's also trying to say to the American people, he understands the 52 percent in the Rasmussen poll last week saying we're in a recession and unemployment's still a stubbornly high 7.5 percent, that we've got to do something, that we've got to do something pretty quickly."
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Schoen, a Newsmax contributor and author of the book "Hopelessly Divided," also said Obama's move to focus attention on the economy is a preemptive strike against Republicans as budget deadlines and the debt ceiling limit approach.
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"Look, the president understands that he's unlikely to win an up or down referendum on his own performance, particularly on the economy," he said. "So what he has figured out is that if he makes the contest a clear choice between two views, two visions, the Democratic view, his view, and the Republican view, he has a better chance simply because Republicans at this point are so unpopular."
As for how the President is likely to address the situation in Detroit after claiming that his policies saved the auto industry, Schoen asserted, "He's going to talk about the need for infrastructure, more stimulus, and basically bailing out urban America. He's got to do it but I doubt if he will have as his central focus what he and his colleagues hope is localized to be an arguably specific problem, which is distinctive to Detroit."
"He can't gloss over the fact that the seventh largest city in the country's gone bankrupt," he continued, "but on the other hand he has to try to reassure and stabilize the markets because the thing that would be calamitous for him would be a string of municipal bankruptcies that could cause real panic."
Asked why it has taken Obama until almost a year after his re-election to make this kind of push on the economy, Schoen responded, "I don’t know why it's taken him so long is the real answer and I don’t know why he hasn’t reached out in a bipartisan way, and I don’t know why he hasn’t tried to fashion solutions that would benefit the country and bring people, both in Washington and outside Washington, onto the same page.
"That is one of his great failings. I just really can't account for it," he added.
Schoen also commented on the tasks ahead for House Speaker John Boehner as Washington gears up for another debt ceiling fight, saying, "The best possible outcome he can hope for is to get through them unscathed and to hope that the Republican Party doesn’t fracture, whether it be over immigration or something else. He is going to have a tough issue dealing with the budget."
The Democratic strategist also noted that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's proposed budget is going to be a "nonstarter" for Democrats.
"Bottom line, these are still going to be very polarized times, very divided times," he said, adding that Republicans will have a hard time keeping their caucus together in the face of strong Democratic support "for what I have to call a failing Obama agenda."
The worst case scenario for Republicans, according to Schoen: The party "divides over the immigration bill" and it fails, the party overreaches on the debt ceiling negotiations, leading to a threatened government shutdown, and the party brand is weakened heading into the 2014 election.
"The Democrats beat up on them, and it's not that the Democrats get more popular it's that the Republicans get less popular," he said.
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Commenting on Obamacare and the administration's move to delay the employer mandate for a year, Schoen said warned that if the administration is forced to delay the individual mandate as well, "that would effectively kill" the healthcare reform law that the president invested the first two years of his presidency in.
He also cited recent polls indicating more trouble ahead.
"If you look at the polls which show that close to six in 10 want to either rollback part of it or all of it, this is a measure that is dire trouble before it's been even fully implemented."
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