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Obama on the move in a bid to spur a sputtering agenda

President Obama has lately been front and center, pushing one new initiative after another – and even taking care to include Republicans. But motion does not guarantee progress.

By Staff writer / February 3, 2010

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden talk about energy policy with governors in the State Dining Room of the White House, Wednesday.

Larry Downing / Reuters



Say this for President Obama: He’s keeping his feet moving.

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Yes, the push for healthcare reform legislation has come to a stop, blocked by Republican Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts special Senate election. Yes, other big administration priorities likely will be derailed by the Democrats’ loss of their filibuster-proof, 60-vote Senate margin.

Mr. Obama admitted as much on Tuesday when he said the Senate might pass an energy bill this year without cap-and-trade limits on greenhouse-gas emissions, long a centerpiece of the White House environmental agenda.

“It’s conceivable that’s where the Senate ends up,” said Obama, speaking at a town hall meeting Tuesday in Nashua, N.H.

Just keep moving

But in the face of a new political environment, Obama seems quickly to have shifted his governing strategy. It’s a classic White House recovery move. Call it “The Theory of Constant Motion.”

Thus, leading up to Obama’s State of the Union address on Jan. 27, administration officials each day highlighted a different proposal the speech would contain, one by one. First came measures to help the middle class. Then it was a three-year freeze on nondefense discretionary spending. And so on.

Pivoting out of the speech itself, the White House has put Obama front and center to push those policies. The president answered questions on YouTube. He traveled to Baltimore to parry with GOP lawmakers.

In New Hampshire he highlighted his push to allocate $30 billion in TARP money to community banks, for small business loans. In Washington on Wednesday, Obama was at it again, unveiling a plan for boosting the production of biofuels.