Predictions are always tough, but President Barack Obama’s speeches have become so formulaic that there is less risk in predicting the basic outline of his economy speech in Galesburg, IL today–the first in a series:
1. Taking credit: Look for Obama to take credit for (slightly) accelerating job creation in the private sector over the past several years, as well as lower budget deficits (in direct contradiction to #2, below). He will be speaking in a town whose unemployment rate of 7.7% is slightly higher than the national average, and in a state with massive budget deficits and economic problems, but he will point to a few successful local projects.
2. Casting blame: Obama will, as he has done for several years, blame Republicans for blocking “progress” as he defines it. He won’t mention the dozens of job bills that have stalled in the Democrat-controlled Senate, or his own foot-dragging on the Keystone Pipeline. He will mention the need for more spending investment in infrastructure and claim that the budget sequester is keeping our economy from reaching its full potential.
3. Invoking history: Obama does not know or care much about history, but he does know his own. In 2005, he spoke at the same site (which also happens to be the site of one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, another parallel Obama has cultivated). His theme then: praising FDR for rejecting the false choice between economic growth and economic regulation–ignoring many of the facts of that era, including massive wartime borrowing.
4. Talking big: Obama wants to distract the public from what spokesperson Jay Carney called “phony scandals” today–a repeated talking point of the White House press operation in recent weeks. So he will talk about the broad sweep of history, the economic transformation of the Midwest with the rise of the railroad, the creation of the new information economy, the need for the green economy of the future, etc. All familiar.
5. Checking the boxes: Obama’s agenda may have stalled, but that doesn’t mean he is abandoning it. Expect him to talk about how immigration reform would add to economic growth and reduce the deficit; how dealing with climate change would create new opportunities; how new free trade talks with the European Union will open up new markets; and so on. He will also foreshadow the fall’s debt ceiling fight, and warn against default.