President Barack Obama is flying out to California midday today, as he tries to motivate November voters to back a more activist Congress.
The trip is one element in an whirl of events and appearances set for the next three months that are designed to show him as a man of action, in contrast to a supposedly obstructionist Congress.
“We can get a whole lot more done if we have Congress working with us,” Obama said during a morning speech to Democratic legislators gathered for their annual strategy session in Cambridge, Md. “I want to work with Congress to make that happen, but I’m not going to wait — there’s too much to do,” he said.
“America does not believe in standing still. America insists on moving forward,” he declared.
To show apparent action, Obama is using his California trip today to announce a $1 billion environmental spending proposal that likely will never go anywhere in the GOP-majority House.
He’s also touting a minimum-wage increase, workplace regulation to aid women, and an immigration bill that would bring roughly 12 million illegals “out of the shadows.”
The California proposal is one of several poll-tested items in his 2015 budget request that he’ll roll out over the next few weeks before he sends part of the request to Congress on March 4. That’s a month later than the time set by law. The remainder of the budget package will be released the following week.
Obama is also making sure to host a high-profile meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah in sunny California this afternoon.
The king has been in D.C. this week, but has been denied a White House meeting and kept off-stage, even though his moderate regime is endangered by Islamic radicals and a neighboring Syrian civil war.
Obama has got a season of foreign trips planned, including a March trip to Europe,where he’ll meet the Pope. He’ll then fly over to meet the king of Saudi Arabia, which has played a central role in the United States’s security strategy for 50 years.
He’s gong to Mexico next week to boost his ratings among Latino voters, and to Asia in April, when he’ll stop off in Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, the former home of many Asian-American voters.
The campaign themes are being trumpeted and touted by Obama’s campaign arm, Organizing For America.
The group is trying to build up the president as an active supporter of working-class Americans and various minorities, such as gays, immigrants, Latinos, worried parents, manufacturing workers, and single women.
On Feb. 6, an OFA e-mail pitched the theme with an image of the president and a quote from the State of the Union speech.
“Let’s make this a year of action,” the email quotes Obama, before presenting a fund-raising pitch.
“Anyone who pledges to help get the word out… will be automatically entered for the chance to meet the president backstage in D.C.,” said the solicitation.
The “year of action” theme is intended to serve as a contrast to the GOP, which is being portrayed by Democrats — and the established media — as blocking action. Generally, the GOP has blocked or partly blocked unpopular actions, such as the Democrat push for greatly increased spending, and for greatly increased immigration.
GOP leaders are trying to reverse the Democrats’ narrative by developing and pushing various pieces of legislation.
For example, they’re drafting an ambitious health-care proposal that would supplant the increasingly unpopular and expensive Obamacare network.
So far, GOP leaders have set aside the divisive demand by business leaders for more immigrant workers, but have not tried to develop an alternative immigration reform plan that would help American workers. Some GOP leaders, including Sen. Jeff Sessions, say a careful reform can help Americans, recent immigrants and the GOP.
Instead, the House leaders are focusing on Obamacare, partly because lawmakers want to use public opposition toward Obamacare to win a majority in the Senate.
But Obama has his election themes too. “The single most important thing we have to do… is to make sure there is opportunity for every single person,” he told Democratic legislators at the Cambridge meeting.
“The American people know we could be breaking out if the Congress gets its act together,” he said.