WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says he expects to be held accountable by people who can’t find jobs, but he contends that voters will remember who caused the economic mess in the first place — and it wasn’t him.
Americans, Obama said Thursday, don’t have a “selective memory.”
“They’re going remember the policies that got us into this mess as well,” Obama said, referring to the previous Republican administration. “And they sure as heck don’t want to go back to those.”
The president made the comments in an interview with NBC News after touring the site of a future electric vehicle battery plant in Michigan that got money from last year’s economic stimulus bill.
Obama has been trying to convince gloomy voters that despite near double-digit unemployment nationwide, the situation would be even worse without the $862 billion stimulus law that’s created jobs around the country.
“It’s hard because you don’t see immediate gratification,” the president acknowledged Thursday. He said his message to people out of work was that his administration was doing everything possible to create an environment in which private sector jobs could expand.
“But I’m not any more satisfied than they are,” Obama said. “And until they can find a job, I expect to be held accountable.”
Obama emphasized Democrats’ emerging campaign theme heading into November elections in which the party could take a beating: The election will be a “choice between the policies that got us into this mess and my policies that are getting us out of this mess,” he said. Polls show he has work to do to make the message take hold.
Obama also defended going around the Senate to appoint a new head of Medicare and Medicaid. The so-called recess appointment of Donald Berwick has drawn scathing criticism from Republicans, and even some griping from Democrats who thought Berwick should have been put through the standard Senate confirmation process.
“The fact of the matter is that I can’t play political games with the Senate on these issues,” Obama said. “I’ve got a government to run.”
On a lighter note, Obama disclosed his elder daughter Malia’s summer vacation plans: the 12-year-old will be spending a month at camp, something she’s never done.
As for his own summer plans, Obama was coy. If past practice holds, the first family will go to Martha’s Vineyard, but the president and his staff are now regularly getting asked whether they might go to the Gulf Coast, as Obama’s been urging other Americans to do.
“We’re going to be trying to figure out where we’re going to be able to take some time over the course of the summer,” said Obama.