Much of the speech was focused on Obama patting himself on the back for what he has already done for the economy, like passing student loan reform, the Affordable Care Act, and the auto bailout. He also spent a fair amount of the speech reminding people of economic ideas, like raising the minimum wage and expanding Pre-K, that he put forward in during “pivots to the economy” that were then basically ignored for months.
What was really missing from this pivot speech was any talk of leverage. It was a fulcrum without a lever.
There was no indication of a new strategy or tactics that would be used to actually move the debate in Congress or the state of the economy. No reasons to believe this time might be different. The strategy he outlined to try to force Congress to take action was identical to the failed strategy he has been using for years. No big threats or proposed deals. It was the same generic line about “listening to all sides” he has used in stump speeches for years.
Similarly, there was no talk of concrete unilateral steps he was prepared to take without Congress. Obama could have said something bold like: I will appoint members to the Federal Reserve who will finally take the full employment part of their mandate seriously. But he didn’t.
I suspect this pivot will suffer the same fate as Obama’s last half dozen pivots to the economy. He will give a few more speeches, but once again other issues like the debt ceiling and immigration will dominate Washington.