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The vacation is over, Mr. President
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The most pressing concern is the looming deadline to strike a budget deal. If Congress doesn't reach an agreement before Sept. 30, the government could shut down for the first time in nearly two decades. Lawmakers will have only nine legislative days to act after returning to Washington from their summer recess.
An even more complicated issue is healthcare. Some Republicans want to tie the continuing resolution that would keep the government open to defunding the president’s signature healthcare law. Obama recently warned congressional Republicans that health insurance isn't a political game. "Our economy isn’t something to play politics with,” he said “This isn’t a game. This is about the economic security of millions of families.”
The healthcare exchanges are set to begin and Democrats fear that a botched implementation could hurt them at the polls in 2014 and reinforce GOP efforts to repeal the law.
The president will also look to find support for his budget priorities. He will detail proposals for reducing college costs and in general and argue that his budget agenda has helped the country battle back from recession.
But it is not going to be easy. Recent polls are suggesting Obama’s post-election political capital has dissipated. Only 35 percent of the country approves of the president’s handling of the economy, despite solid jobs growth. Polls also show that Republicans in Congress have even less support than the president. Voters are more likely to say members of the GOP are doing too little to compromise, and more likely to blame Republicans for gridlock.
If Obama doesn't regain his momentum after his return to Washington, Republicans will be reinforced in their efforts to dismantle signature first-term achievements like the Affordable Care Act and government spending programs. The president has warned that another crisis in Washington will not reflect well on economy and called on Republicans to show some common sense.
The president will also face new questions about the NSA and will have to confront the crisis in Egypt. Let's hope he had a good rest on Martha's Vineyard…
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