Eager to refocus his administration on job creation in the wake of the debt-ceiling crisis, President Obama will hit the road on August 15 for a three-day bus tour of the Midwest, the White House confirmed on Wednesday morning. He will also be talking about the economy in rural areas.
The president has repeatedly struggled to keep job creation as his central message after being bogged down by crisis after crisis that demanded his attention: the Arab Spring rebellions, a massive earthquake and tsunami that damaged a Japanese nuclear plant, and, most recently, a months-long showdown with Congress to raise the debt ceiling.
In a Tuesday speech announcing that the deal to raise the limit had passed Congress, Obama said he would be talking about ways to help companies expand in the coming months.
“I’ll continue also to fight for what the American people care most about: new jobs, higher wages, and faster economic growth,” Obama said. “While Washington has been absorbed in this debate about deficits, people across the country are asking, what we can do to help the father looking for work? What are we going to do for the single mom who’s seen her hours cut back at the hospital? What are we going to do to make it easier for businesses to put up that 'now hiring' sign?”
He also called on Congress to pass a slate of legislation as soon as they return to Washington on September 6, including an extension of unemployment benefits, three pending free-trade agreements, patent reform, and a bank to fund infrastructure projects.
“We have workers who need jobs and a country that needs rebuilding,” Obama said on Tuesday.
For a president who frequently begins town hall meetings by talking about how much he enjoys getting out of Washington, Obama has been awfully cooped up in recent months. On July 22, he barely made it out of the district confines to a town hall meeting at the University of Maryland. Before that, he hadn’t made a trip since the end of June, when he traveled to Bettendorf, Iowa to talk about manufacturing.
There will be more travel in August. On Wednesday night, Obama is scheduled to attend Democratic National Committee fundraisers in Chicago pegged to his birthday. The first family will also travel to Martha’s Vineyard for their usual end-of-summer vacation.
George E. Condon Jr. contributed contributed to this article.
This article appears in the August 3, 2011, edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.