July 11, 2010— -- As the U.S. economy struggles to recover, the president's top political adviser set modest expectations for any additional government action to boost job growth.
In an interview on ABC's "This Week," Axelrod acknowledged that the Congress does not have the appetite for another stimulus package.
"It's true there's not a great desire, even though there's some argument for additional spending in the short term to continue to generate economic activity," Axelrod told anchor Jake Tapper.
The White House, Axelrod said, is focusing on smaller measures to try to spur growth such as tax cuts and lending for small businesses, encouraging electric car production and patent reform.
Axelrod said the White House accepts the responsibility of moving the economy forward, but his political focus remained on the past.
"We lost three million jobs in the last six months of 2008. [Republicans] turned a $237 billion surplus that Bill Clinton left into a $1.3 trillion deficit. And they're running on the same policies," Axelrod said.
Asked by Tapper about recent comments from business leaders that government overregulation is creating economic uncertainty and could dampen the recover, Axelrod again looked back.
"Let's just review history here," he said. "There's no doubt that there was a kind of 'Katie bar the door' philosophy in Washington during the eight years previous to us and what it led to was a financial disaster."
He defended the administration's relationship with the business community saying White House actions prevented the crisis from being far worse.
"Our financial system is now stable instead of collapsing, which would have been a devastating thing for every business in this country, large and small," Axelrod said.
The White House adviser said he warned President Obama as early as mid-2008 to expect a tough 2010 midterm election because of the economy.
"People are going to be unhappy, and they have the right to be unhappy," Axelrod said he told then-Sen. Obama. "Your numbers are going to suffer here, and we're going to have a difficult election, because these are going to be difficult times for the country."
ABC News poll shows released in June showed the president's approval rating at 52 percent. Congress fared far worse, with an approval rating of 26 percent and a disapproval rating of 76 percent, signaling a hostile environment for incumbents.