President Obama continued to talk about his economic policy and job growth as he wound up a whirlwind bus tour in western Illinois on Wednesday. Although the three-day tour included stops in Minnesota and Iowa, the White House insists is "not a campaign blitz," the ABC reports.
Republican contenders Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann and Texas Governor Rick Perry are also taking their own bus tours, and they are all talking about the same thing — jobs.
During the tour, Obama laid out a rural jobs initiatives plan that was immediately criticized by economists as offering minimal gains, or worse might even displace jobs in metropolitan areas, the ABC reports.
Details of the plan will be part of Obama's speech about how his administration plans to grow the economy and create jobs, expected right after Labor Day, the AP reports, citing an unnamed official.
In the speech, Obama will reportedly offer ideas about unemployment that are "fresh ones, not a rehash of plans he has pitched for many weeks."
He will put forward a "very specific plan to boost the economy, to create jobs, and to control our deficit" when Congress reconvenes in September, the official reportedly said.
Obama gave details of the rural jobs initiatives plan at the White House Rural Economic Forum in Peosta, Iowa, on Tuesday, including, according to the ABC:
Doubling the U.S. Small Business Administration investment funds for rural small businesses over the next five years and launching a series of Rural Private Equity and Venture Capital conferences nationwide.
It also will expand Department of Labor and USDA jobs search and training information at 2,800 USDA field offices, increase rural physician recruitment and expand health information technology in rural hospitals and clinics.
However, economists asked to weigh in on the plan by ABC said variously that:
"The White House must do more than come up with policy miniatures."
Targeting job creation in rural areas could potentially displace a job in another area of the country; and
The president's announcement is "more enhancement than new policies," and "akin to putting a new ribbon on last year's birthday present and using it as a gift again."
Unveiling the broader plan in September, Obama will reportedly also talk about cutting the national debt in a way that's bigger than the spending cuts that a congressional "super committee" must present by Nov. 23.
“Hopefully, when they come back in September, they’re going to have a wakeup call that says we need to move the country forward,” Obama said Monday.
According to the ABC:
All of the candidates, including the president, are now trying to capitalize on the growing distaste for Washington.
While Obama is facing his lowest approval rating, at just 39 percent, Congress polled at 13 percent, matching a previous record low.
Obama on Tuesday squarely blamed Republicans for problems in Washington, "telling CNN that the GOP's 'ideological rigidity' is standing in the way of compromises necessary for stronger economic growth."
Republicans, meantime, hit back by repeating their accusation that Obama's trip was nothing more than a glorified campaign swing at taxpayer expense, the LA Times reports.
"This week taxpayers made a donation to the Obama reelection campaign. No matter what the president says, his Midwest bus tour is nothing but a campaign trip," said Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee. "He's talking about campaigning against Congress and doling out talking points, not policy plans."