The president also plans a series of summertime events focused on steps the government can take to drive economic growth, aides said. Many in the White House see a Sept. 30 deadline to renew government funding as probably the last opportunity for Obama to scale back the deep domestic spending cuts known as sequestration before the 2014 midterm elections.
The two-pronged focus comes after months of firefighting and distractions for Obama, who spent the first half of the year forming a new Cabinet and zig-zagging from one issue to another, including an unsuccessful bid for new gun regulations. The spring also brought a spate of controversies that raised questions about the administration’s credibility, forcing the president to address why IRS employees scrutinized conservative groups and whether the government was spying on millions of Americans.
White House officials say they do not discount the difficulties that lie ahead. Abroad, Obama is struggling with how to apprehend fugitive leaker Edward Snowden and how to respond to turmoil in Egypt. At home, the administration is encountering problems in launching its landmark health-care expansion. And the president’s greatest ambitions must run through the Republican-controlled House, where there is little appetite for compromise.
But advisers think that some of Obama’s most vexing political problems have faded in recent weeks, leaving him ready to begin the focused push on immigration and the economy. His aides say the president is buoyed by the Senate’s passage of an immigration bill and by a steady stream of positive economic news, including a report Friday showing robust job growth.
“When you’re toiling in the vineyard through a tumultuous spring, it can be hard to see it all coming together,” said Jennifer Palmieri, the White House communications director. But now, she said, “you can see it coming together.”
Still, Obama continues to face strong opposition among congressional Republicans, particularly in the House. If he continues on his current path, some GOP lawmakers say, they will make it as difficult as possible.
“We’re going to continue to be very aggressive in serving as a check and balance against the Obama administration. That’s what the country said in November,” said Rep. Steve Scalise (La.), a conservative leader, referring to continued Republican control of the House. “We’re very far apart.”