By MICHAEL FALCONE and AMY WALTER
President Obama is making good use of the bully pulpit these days to drive an economic message as he tries to deny the GOP the chance to define the agenda.
Earlier this week it was a WSJ editorial on ditching “dumb” regulation, today it's restructuring his economic advisory board to shift away from focusing on stabilizing the economy to growing jobs.
Obama plans to name General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to head a new economic advisory panel, the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. That panel replaces a board that had been chaired by former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, who is stepping down after serving a two-year term.
“My hope is that the council will be a sounding board for ideas and a catalyst for action on jobs and competitiveness,” Immelt wrote in an Op-Ed published in the Washington Post today. “It will include small and large businesses, labor, economists and government.” http://wapo.st/ev1H5d
While it’s not clear that either of these moves will succeed in bringing down the nation's stubborn unemployment rate, it does show a president on the offense on the one issue that will decide his fate in 2012.
“We still have a long way to go, and my number one priority is to ensure we are doing everything we can to get the American people back to work," the president said in a statement last night announcing the changes.
Meanwhile, GOP leaders are finding out just how hard it is to agree on how and what to do on budget cuts. A group of House Republicans on Thursday introduced a proposal to cut spending from more than 100 federal programs and cut back spending levels by $2.5 trillion over the next decade, ABC News’ John R. Parkinson reports. http://abcn.ws/hT0RDT
The bill would hold non-security discretionary spending for 2011 to 2008 levels, freeze non-defense discretionary spending to 2006 levels for 10 years and cut the federal workforce by 15 percent, according to the Republican Study Committee, a group made up of conservative lawmakers.
While Republican leaders like House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor offered kind words for the Study Committee’s recommendations, they stopped short of endorsing them. The real debate will begin in earnest next week when the GOP plans to bring a resolution to the House floor re-setting spending to 2008 levels.
House Democrats largely rejected the Republicans’ plan yesterday. Doug Thornell, spokesman for the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, called it a “radical proposal.”
“The likelihood of this becoming law is around zero, but even putting forward a plan that puts more people out of work and endangers our economic recovery calls into question how serious the GOP is about tackling our nation’s most difficult challenges,” Thornell said.
WHITE HOUSE WATCH. President Obama will travel to New York to visit the birthplace of General Electric in Schenectady. The President will tour the site with GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt and will deliver remarks this afternoon “on the importance of growing the economy and making America more competitive by investing in jobs, innovation and clean energy.” This evening, the president will travel to Cambridge, Md. to attend the Democratic Issues Conference.
ABC News’ Ann Compton notes: “President Obama has made an aggressive outreach to corporate America in recent weeks and is expected to address the US Chamber of Commerce next month, the business lobby which has been no fan of the White House economic policies.”
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Amy Walter and Rick Klein welcome Alliance for American Manufacturing executive director Paul Scott to talk about the state of the U.S. economy as well as U.S.-China relations. Also on the program, The New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny, who has been reporting on how the Obama political operation is gearing up for the 2012 race. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://bit.ly/ABCTopLine
SOTU COUNTDOWN: 5 DAYS. “In looking ahead to Tuesday's State of the Union address, let's pause and reflect on what is the likely impact of this speech by President Obama and what audience should be the real aim of his message. An analysis of Gallup polling data over the last 35 years reveals that the State of the Union has little to no effect on presidential approval ratings. President Clinton fared the best — on average his approval rose a very modest 3 percentage points after his annual addresses,” ABC News analyst Matthew Dowd writes. “So what to look for? Whatever the (likely limited) impact the speech has on the general public will likely be due to his continuing to connect the dots on his bipartisan appeal and his desire to change the tone in Washington. Single speeches don't usually move the country, but a cumulative effect of consistent communications and actions that resonate with the public does. And, of course, an improving economy would be a major help with stabilizing his numbers at a higher level.” http://abcn.ws/fuOE5b
SOTU FACT OF THE DAY: On Jan. 28, 1986, the House of Representatives memorialized the seven astronauts aboard the space shuttle Challenger who died when the craft exploded shortly after launch that morning. Out of respect to the Challenger crew and their families, the House adjourned for two hours before passing a resolution expressing sorrow for the tragedy and remembering the astronauts. President Ronald Reagan postponed the State of the Union address, which he had scheduled to deliver that evening. (h/t ABC’s Eliza Larson and Office of the House Clerk).
GIFFORDS’ RECOVERY. “With the expected transfer Friday of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) from a hospital in Tucson to a rehabilitation center in Houston, her treatment transitions from a heroic, high-tech fight to save her life to a long and arduous slog to help her brain rebuild itself,” The Washington Post’s David Brown reports. “The success of this second effort will depend on the extent of her brain damage (which is not yet fully determined), the skill of her therapists, personal effort and the unpredictable capacity of her brain to change. Despite the use of terms like "miraculous" to describe Giffords's progress, numerous experts describe her survival and apparently good condition as an increasingly common outcome in brain-injured patients, thanks to aggressive surgery and meticulous care afterward.” http://wapo.st/hd9mNK
ARIZONA PRIMARY MANEUVERING. “Just when presidential political operatives were beginning to rejoice over the February start of the 2012 GOP presidential primary contests, Arizona is getting ready to throw a wrench into that plan,” Real Clear Politics’ Erin McPike reports. “The Arizona Republican Party is preparing to pass a resolution Saturday that would bump its primary date to February, when traditional early states like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and now, Nevada, will hold their nominating contests. The move could touch off a scramble for the early states to go even earlier. The Republican National Committee passed a new set of rules at its summer meeting in August that set up a tiered system for the primary process and would punish states that try to buck it. States other than the first four would suffer a penalty for holding contests before March 1, 2012. But the Arizona GOP is willing to suffer the consequences.” http://bit.ly/efPtsv
GIULIANI 2012? “Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) said he is ‘absolutely’ open to a run for president in 2012,” The Hill’s Michael O’Brien notes. “Giuliani, the mayor of New York during the 9/11 terrorist attacks who ran for president in 2008, hinted more strongly that he might seek the Republican nomination to challenge President Obama's reelection. ‘I will take a look at 2012. It's really a question of, can I play a useful role? Would I have a chance of getting the nomination? Those are things that I'll have to evaluate as the year goes along’ Giuliani said Thursday night on CNBC's ‘The Kudlow Report.’” http://bit.ly/ifs4Ha
A BUSH REUNION. “It was a gathering of Republican foreign policy heavyweights last night in College Station, Texas, as former President George H.W. Bush marked the 20th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm with his national security team,” ABC News’s Karen Travers reports. “Speaking before an audience of several thousand people, including Gulf War veterans, active duty military and students from Texas A&M University, including some from Iraq and Kuwait, Bush credited his Cabinet and military team for their leadership and unity during the planning and execution of the air and ground attacks that liberated Kuwait from the invasion by Iraq. … Along with Bush, the event included former Vice President Dan Quayle, then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell, former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and then-National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft.” http://abcn.ws/g7B5Mn
@CoryBooker: We have 47 trucks city wide plowing and salting AND sanitation is picking up garbage as scheduled today.
EYE ON NEW HAMPSHIRE. This Saturday January 22, ABC News and WMUR-TV in New Hampshire are teaming up for a first ever 2012 presidential “straw poll” sanctioned by the New Hampshire Republican State Committee. On Saturday 493 members of the New Hampshire Republican party gather at the Pinkerton Academy in Derry for their annual meeting where they will be able to anonymously choose the GOP candidate they'd like to see as the party's nominee for 2012.
Results are expected Saturday afternoon. Follow Walter (@amyewalter) and ABCNews.com as well as WMUR online political editor James Pindell at WMURPoliticalScoop.com for the latest news and analysis. http://abcn.ws/gC66IF
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