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The White House's case to voters on the economy

So how will the White House make the case to individual voters that Obama's economic policies are working for them? How tough a sell is it?

President Obama met with an Ohio family at their kitchen table today to talk to them about the economy, and their situation is worth noting, because it provides a close up look at the answer to that question.

The White House just sent out some info on the family: They are Rhonda and Joe Weithman, Ohio natives who live with their two children in Columbus, which is smack in the middle of the Rust Belt I-70 corridor that will be a critical battleground in the midterm elections. Joe owns a small architecture firm that lost business during the recession. Here's the White House argument as to how Obama policies helped this family:

COBRA Subsidies from the Recovery Act: The Recovery Act established a 65 percent tax credit subsidy for COBRA health insurance benefits for involuntary unemployed workers. Rhonda benefited from these subsidies after she was laid off from her job. This tied her over until she went to work for her husband and was covered under his plan.

Investments in Local Infrastructure: Joe runs an architecture firm with five employees. He was able to keep two of their employees that otherwise would have been laid off due to work on a police station renovation that received infrastructure funding. Joe is hopeful that he will hire an additional employee as the economy continues to improve and additional projects, some of which could be funded by the Recovery Act, are secured.

Pre-existing Conditions: With the passage of health care reform, if the Weithman's shop for new insurance, their son will be able to get health care coverage despite his pre-existing condition. The new law includes new rules to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to children under the age of 19 due to a pre-existing condition.

What you're seeing here is a ground-level example of the White House case: Without us, things would be much worse for you today, and amid all your hardship, our policies have helped you in isolated, but palpable, ways. The larger context for this, of course, is that new AP poll this morning finding that approval of Obama's handling of the economy is at 41 percent, a new low.

More about the meeting with the family when it's available.

By Greg Sargent  |  August 18, 2010; 11:38 AM ET
Categories:  economy  
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Comments

Why aren't the White House and all Democrats making a big push for the Women's vote.


Equal Pay For Equal Work passed,

and Two Women appointed to the Supreme Court.

Why not keep reminding women, of who has stood up for them.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 18, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

When presented with this evidence, the public just doesn't process it. They tune it out. All they know is they've lost their job or they know people who have, and they want to know when people are getting back to work.

Posted by: SDJeff | August 18, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

COBRA Subsidies from the Recovery Act: The Recovery Act established a 65 percent tax credit subsidy for COBRA health insurance benefits for involuntary unemployed workers. Rhonda benefited from these subsidies after she was laid off from her job. This tied her over until she went to work for her husband and was covered under his plan. Doesn't sound like she needed COBRA, she could have went to work for her husband right away (a option 99% of people don't have.) More waisted government spending.

Posted by: obrier2 | August 18, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

"Why not keep reminding women, of who has stood up for them."

Sarah Palin has countered with mama grizzlies.

Right now, independents are sliding back into their tendencies toward scared and stupid. That leads to republican votes.

Posted by: SDJeff | August 18, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse


"Why not keep reminding women, of who has stood up for them."

Sarah Palin has countered with mama grizzlies.

Right now, independents are sliding back into their tendencies toward scared and stupid. That leads to republican votes.

Posted by: SDJeff | August 18, 2010 11:50 AM

...................

That just validates my point. The Democrats have not been openly going after the Women's vote, and reminding them of which party has actually expanded their rights.

Democrats have delivered on equal pay for equal work, and added two women to the Supreme Court.

It would be nice if they would start reminding women of those recent accomplishments.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 18, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Why isn't the DNC making a big push for the Women's vote. Democrats have delivered for them, but no one is messaging that truth, on an ongoing basis.

Under Tim Kaine, DNC has come to mean: Damn Near Comatose.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 18, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

"Equal Pay For Equal Work passed"

That's only a big deal if you have a job.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | August 18, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Ahem. Here in the midwest we're pretty tired of being called the Rust Belt. That's some pretty old labelling, too.

Posted by: ANDYO1 | August 18, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

The White House, and the DNC need to take a page from President Reagan's play book.

He always spoke in nothing but positive terms, about how everything was getting better and better. Morning In America. A Shining City On A Hill. Our Best Days Are Yet To Come. Reagan talked like that, even when the economy was struggling.

President Obama has been saying: I know things are not going very well, but they could have been much worse. That is not going to sell. It is a tepid, uninspiring message. Get off of it.

Here is what the White House and all Democrats better start doing, and keep on doing.

From Composer Johnny Mercer:

"You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene"

Posted by: Liam-still | August 18, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure how well these mini stories play out when we still have almost 10% unemployment, not including the "99ers" and underemployed. It would be much better to address putting Americans back to work now rather than resting on their laurels of saving the economy. Someone needs to figure out a way to save middle and working class Americans in this deficit manic environment.

We need a plan for the new future now that we've rescued the recent past. Small business tax cuts and lending isn't going to cut it IMO.

Posted by: lmsinca | August 18, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse


"Equal Pay For Equal Work passed"

That's only a big deal if you have a job.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | August 18, 2010 12:17 PM
....................

Well Duh! You are a master of the obvious, so I point out to you this obvious fact.

There are far more Women still with jobs, than without jobs, and their votes count too.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 18, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Liam-still, Charlie Melancon, who is the Democrat running for David Vitter's Senate seat in Louisiana, put out an ad recently on women's issues. It put it in the context of Vitter's prostitution scandal, but then goes on to talk about policies like Vitter's oppositions to mamogram funding, equal pay, and so forth. The point of the ad was that as bad as Vitter's transgression against his wife was, it's not nearly as bad as his political transgressions against women in general.

Posted by: DDAWD | August 18, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Please do share more details of the meeting.

I want everyone, including our hate-filled extremist (aka "Moderate") Republican "friends" to see this.

So far, our "moderate" Republican "friends" are sitting on their hands and NOT repudiating statements from the GOP that Obama is "President of All Those Who Oppose the United States" and that Obama really doesn't care about civil liberties or religious freedom.

I guess that is acceptable commentary in today's "moderate" GOP.

I want them to see this President meeting people face-to-face.

And I want them to see the BENEFITS of the Obama Admin and Democratic Agenda for the American people.

And frankly, I want to rub those benefits in the face of any "moderate" who condones bigotry with their silence on the extremist bigoted racial GOP rhetoric.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 18, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I think the new preferred term for the midwest is "Flyover Land."

Posted by: ANDYO1 | August 18, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

"There are far more Women still with jobs, than without jobs, and their votes count too."

And they're probably not very happy their husbands and boyfriends are out of work.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | August 18, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

There's another characterization of Mr Sargent's essay:

this is what you talk about when you don't want to talk about jobs.

If you don't like that, how about this:

Look at all we've done to make being unemployed more comfortable for you.

If I were the Republicans I'd be playing that famous Joe Bite Me video, "Its a three letter word, J.O.B.S." endlessly.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | August 18, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

There is no rust belt left. The American Oligarchs shipped even the rust out to China and other places that pay starvation level wages to their production workers.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 18, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Well, among educated people who are following what Congress is doing, Republicans look really terrible for jobs. They are shutting down pretty much every attempt at job creation.

Yeah, I'm sure that among people who have no idea what is going on in DC, Democrats look a lot worse than Republicans, but I don't think Sargent's target audience is people who don't know what's going on in DC. This is a blog, not a TV ad.

Posted by: DDAWD | August 18, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Health care (transformation) is one of the best issues this current administration has done thus far. With this change individuals will have the opportunity to seek professional and quality health care services. Who would want to return to the days of the horse and buggy, b/w tv sets, manual typewriters, pac man, you get the point? That's about how old the health care system was in the USA. Each day the news is filled with social tragedies in which lives are taken at the hands of known acquaintences and/or family members. Our society is stricken with the institutions of white collar crime permeating throughout this great nation and greed which tends to strike at the very fabric of our country. If you are looking for affordable health insurance check out http://bit.ly/9fDY7U . I hope everyone will soon recognize and use the resources made by this transformation to seek professional medical attention as the need arises rather than turning to illegal and criminal activities to resolve their issues.

Posted by: caryblair | August 18, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

There are far more Women still with jobs, than without jobs, and their votes count too."

And they're probably not very happy their husbands and boyfriends are out of work.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | August 18, 2010 12:28 PM

.....................

Again Mr. Master Of The Obvious:

There are still far more Husbands with jobs than without jobs, and their votes count too.

Further more; even women who are currently unemployed, can still appreciate that when the finally get back the jobs, that Bush/Cheney took away from them, they will now get paid equal pay for equal work.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 18, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

"even women who are currently unemployed, can still appreciate that when the finally get back the jobs, that Bush/Cheney took away from them, they will now get paid equal pay for equal work."

i'm sure. "Good news, we can't pay our bills and might lose the house, but Obama extended the statute of limitations for filing a pay discrimiation lawsuit." that's a campaign winner you've got.


Posted by: NoVAHockey | August 18, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Yes it is for Women who have suffered pay discrimination for decades.

Bush/Cheney killed all the jobs, so only the stupid will forget that, and give Republicans another chance to destroy our economy permanently.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 18, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

@SDJeff: "Right now, independents are sliding back into their tendencies toward scared and stupid. That leads to republican votes."

And liberals are sliding back into their tendencies to call independents and right-of-center folks scared and stupid. That also leads to Republican votes. ;)


Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 18, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Liam, you're right, but any woman who has turned on the democratic party because of the economy isn't going to all of a sudden vote for them because of Sotomayor, Kagan, and Lilly Ledbetter.

Those aren't overriding issues right now. Those are simply counterarguments if anyone says democrats don't care about women, or might be an important issue for an 18 year old woman registering for the first time. But ultimately, it's not going to get them a lot of votes.

This election will be 100% about jobs. It's clear that's what has turned the voters against Obama, democrats, and Washington in general. We can point out all the times republicans have blocked progress in a cynical attempt to gain votes.

But most swing voters don't care about republicans obstructing. They know republicans do that. They just care that democrats haven't produced jobs. That's the reality. We need to look at the election through that prism.

Posted by: SDJeff | August 18, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

"Yes it is for Women who have suffered pay discrimination for decades. Bush/Cheney killed all the jobs, so only the stupid will forget that, and give Republicans another chance to destroy our economy permanently."

Look, I get it. You don't like Bush or the Republicans. Welcome to the club. I don't like them either. Doesn't mean I have to like Obama and the Dems. I'm just pointing out that The Lilly Ledbetter Act isn't going to win the democrats any campaigns this election. Especially since the Paycheck Fairness Act didn't clear the Senate. Furthermore, Democrats who do run on this issue open themselves up to the charge of "more regulations will hurt businesses that aren't hiring anyway."


Posted by: NoVAHockey | August 18, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

"Yes it is for Women who have suffered pay discrimination for decades. Bush/Cheney killed all the jobs, so only the stupid will forget that, and give Republicans another chance to destroy our economy permanently."

Look, I get it. You don't like Bush or the Republicans. Welcome to the club. I don't like them either. Doesn't mean I have to like Obama and the Dems. I'm just pointing out that The Lilly Ledbetter Act isn't going to win the democrats any campaigns this election. Especially since the Paycheck Fairness Act didn't clear the Senate. Furthermore, Democrats who do run on this issue open themselves up to the charge of "more regulations will hurt businesses that aren't hiring anyway."


Posted by: NoVAHockey | August 18, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

"And liberals are sliding back into their tendencies to call independents and right-of-center folks scared and stupid. That also leads to Republican votes."

Good point Kevin, but when it comes to political realities, most independents are pretty stupid. I really don't see how a reasonable person can make the argument that republicans have done one single thing to help get the economy back on track, and in fact, they've blocked measures which most economists agree would've helped create jobs. For anyone to believe they actually have a plan to create jobs, he or she have to be pretty dumb, or oblivious to reality. Their only unique plan is more tax cuts for the wealthy, who already have cash reserves but aren't hiring because no one is buying their products and services.


Posted by: SDJeff | August 18, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

@SDJeff: "Good point Kevin, but when it comes to political realities, most independents are pretty stupid."

I understand your position, but even assuming it's true, then you have to just be willing to write them off--and possibly forever, and maybe you can. I am pretty sure that calling people stupid doesn't make them smarter, or lead to any epiphanies.

"really don't see how a reasonable person can make the argument that republicans have done one single thing to help get the economy back on track,"

They did a lot in 2006 and 2008 to help get Democrats elected. That doesn't count? ;)


Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 18, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Obama needs a teachable moment.

Leadership means pointing to clear defined goals and energizing Main Street. It means stating confidence in the bearing – clear heading and clear direction.

What's Obama doing exactly? America is yearning for Leadership. . . .

http://pacificgatepost.blogspot.com/2010/08/pent-up-pressures-will-explode-into-new.html

Posted by: JamesRaider | August 18, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Obviously this was a carefully orchestrated selection. Let me select five families from the same area and let’s see how well Mr. Obama’s stimulus packages fairs with them. Remember, Mr. Obama’s staff would not risk placing him in a home that might embarrass him. Nice try, but I don’t buy it!

Posted by: Bockscar | August 18, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I guess it's because of my advanced age, but I remember when politicians ran on promises to do things in the future, rather than resting on laurels from their past. "Appreciate me, dammit," has never been much of a campaign slogan. "I'm going to help create jobs for you," on the other hand, is.

Posted by: stonedone | August 18, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

I don't see how anyone without a job or underemployed or who has someone in their family in that situation could vote Republican. I'm sure there may be individual exceptions to this in some districts but, on the whole, I think it's clear. What exactly have the Repubs stated that they would do to revive the economy ? What have they advocated over the last two years and how have they voted to help the unemployed or hurting ? Over the eight years of the Bush Admin no jobs were created. They drove the economy into the ground. They have presided over the "Walmartization" of America. Most new jobs created don't pay a living wage while vilifyiing unions and shipping good paying jobs overseas. The Dems haven't been above reproach in this regard either. What happened to the livable wages for grocery store employees, department store employees ? Is America better off with the slightly lower prices because of this and all the Chinese manufactured goods ? What have the Repubs done to look after the middle class ? Tax breaks for the rich and endless loopholes for corporations seems to be their only answer. Why should I vote for them ? All the so called independents who very recently were Repubs need to ask the question. What would Repubs do to better their situation ? I just haven't seen any intelligent proposals from them and don't trust that they have any.

Posted by: Falmouth1 | August 19, 2010 7:02 AM | Report abuse

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