Obama Returns Home to a Full Plate
By Ben Pershing
After President Obama's much-publicized international trip and his weeks-long focus on the financial system, today brings a reminder that the administration has at least three more key items on its domestic policy plate -- housing, immigration and climate change.
Obama will host a roundtable this morning at the White House to highlight current low interest rates and exalt the joys of owning a home. As The Fix points out, there are some signs that the housing sector is making a comeback. But this is where it gets tricky, because the administration doesn't actually want a full comeback, not if it means a repeat of the overheated market that put the global economy into the toilet. In a session with the Washington Post's Lois Romano for the "Voices of Power" series, HUD chief Shaun Donovan emphasized that "not every American wants to be, nor should be, a homeowner." The administration isn't going to try to help every owner, only the "responsible" ones.
With housing and other economic issues bubbling on the front burners, is there room for immigration reform this year? Yes, White House official Cecilia Muñoz tells the New York Times. But then note the money quote from Muñoz: "He intends to start the debate this year." And, the story adds, immigration will "not take precedence" over health care and energy in the hierarchy of issues important to the White House. Health care, in particular, will be the focus of the administration and its outside allies in the near future. So really, the answer is no, there isn't room to tackle immigration reform this year. Not in a substantive way that moves beyond speeches and "working groups." Remember, unemployment is on the rise, and "comprehensive" immigration reform never polled very well even when the economy was good.
Posted at 8:24 AM ET on Apr 9, 2009
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