Obama, stating that the “…anger…” that brought Scott Brown to the senate was the same that crested him to power was attempting to harmonize his new focus with that of the citizenry.Since the realization that a deep recession was at hand, the public has been focused on the economy.Individuals and families were changing behavior to reel in their own spending and debt and find creative ways to solidify their own sources of income. Almost everyone had a facebook friend that had lost a job or struggled with finding a first job in this bleak economy. The economy has been for at least the past year the most important single issue.
Meanwhile Congress, acting upon Obama’s priority list, was exclaiming about how important it was to reconfigure the US health care system. The initiative was being sold as a major driver to more jobs and a healthier economy.The public watched as Congress invested long nights, relationship capital and unappealing deal making to achieve Health Care Nirvana.And, as the economy drifted through the shadows of recession, the majority of Americans remained under-impressed and un-reassured. Very few voters have acknowledged Health Care reform as their 1st concern.In fact, recent polling showed it to be a distant 4th among major concerns.This disconnect is most likely the source of distrust as to the motives of those pushing a fast Health Care restructuring.
And now, as he prepares for the State of the Union, Obama is faced with the task of convincing a discontent public that the economy has been in his sights all along.And, he will reposition the Obama brand as focused on the economy first and foremost. The new playbook will suggest ways to strengthen inner cities as economic enhancement zones and redirect stimulus funds to promote small business hiring.The President will continue to take credit for setting policies that avoided a depression and for “…saving millions of jobs…” with deficit expanding stimulus. He will have to acknowledge continued press for Health Care Reform so that the energy doesn’t dissipate from the initiative altogether.
Behavioral Economics suggests that the economic recovery will begin when the public and financial institutions are convinced that it has truly begun. This will drive the private market behaviors that will cause consumers to spend and businesses to expand. So, for the State of the Union to be effective the tenor of the speech will have to instill confidence in the future of private business and job growth.