President Obama hasn't been able to put enough pressure on House Republicans to get them to pass his jobs bill -- or to pass pieces of his jobs bill -- so his next step in his anti-"do-nothing Congress" campaign is to use the executive order. Obama's new jobs campaign message, which he just so happens to be launching in the key swing state of Nevada, is "We can't wait" for Washington to do something, The New York Times' Jackie Calmes reports. On Monday, he'll order the changes in federal rules to make it easier for some homeowners to avoid foreclosure and for college graduates to repay their federal loans.
Obama is hoping to sway people like Thomas O’Connell, a 20-year-old college student in North Carolina, who told The New York Times' Mark Landler last week, "If [Obama's] going to say the system is broken, he’s got to put forward something of substance himself." But as Calmes explains, "the coming policy changes, executive orders and agency actions are generally less far-reaching than the legislative proposals now before Congress."
Those measures include changing who can qualify for the Home Affordable Refinance Program, created three years ago after the financial crisis, which encourages giving cheaper loans to people who are underwater on their mortgages. The new rules would allow people who have little or no equity in their homes to qualify. The news comes as The Washington Post's Zachary A. Goldfarb reports that the Obama administration hasn't been able to offer as much housing aid as he pledged when he was sworn into office. People who are deep in debt are reluctant to spend money, which means it's harder for the economy to get going again, Goldfarb explains. "The Obama effort fell short in part because the president and his senior advisers, after a series of internal debates, decided against more dramatic actions to help homeowners, worried that they would pose risks for taxpayers and the economy, according to numerous current and former officials. They consistently unveiled programs that underperformed, did little to reduce mortgage debts owed by ordinary Americans and rejected a get-tough approach with banks."
Calmes reports, "Privately, some Republicans worry that they could suffer from that line of attack." She notes that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Sunday that Obama wasn't giving Republicans proper credit for passing free-trade bills earlier this month. Two weeks ago, House Speaker John Boehner issued a transcript of a private phone call with the president in which he somewhat passive-aggressively asked Obama if he had forgotten all the jobs proposals Republicans had floated. And last week, McConnell said, "The American people want us to do something about the jobs crisis" -- just not the stuff that Obama wants to do. Now they don't have to.