President Obama's economic booklet: Too little, too late?

The Week

The president lays out his vision for a second term in pamphlet form — but critics say it's muted and not exactly groundbreaking

This week, the Obama administration began handing out a 20-page booklet outlining his vision for a second term. Titled "A plan for jobs and middle class security," the publication lays out Obama's proposals to boost economic growth, raise taxes on the wealthy, protect ObamaCare, and invest more in education. The booklet, 3.5 million of which will be mailed to voters and handed out at rallies, serves as a closing argument for the president as he spends the next two final weeks trying to sway undecided voters in crucial swing states.

However, Obama's aides admitted that the booklet contains no new proposals, a fact highlighted by Republican critics. So why bother at all? Team Obama is implementing a last-minute change in strategy in the face of a late surge by Mitt Romney, says Glenn Thrush at Politico:

Obama’s Chicago-based brain trust had intended to highlight four years of “solid, steady progress” in the final days of the race, several Democrats told POLITICO, with a healthy dose of hammering Romney — a strategy that had given Obama a lead going into that fateful first debate.

Instead, the pressure is now on Obama to prove himself — and oh so late in the game. That led his campaign on Tuesday to release a detailed, bullet-point plan for his second term — a formal agenda his team had long resisted despite appeals from the likes of Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and James Carville, and an army of basic-cable liberals, who said the president needed to spend less time cutting down Romney and more time elevating himself.

Will a pivot to Obama's second-term agenda change anyone's minds? At the very least, the booklet shows that "after four years as president Obama does have a record to run on, rather than the vague policies that appear from the Romney campaign," says Richard Adams at Britiain's The Guardian:

But if there's a big difference it's in the modesty of Obama's plan. While Romney is chock full of impressive boasts – 12 million more jobs, tax cuts for all, a bigger military and a lower deficit — the Obama effort is muted. The new plan also does mention 12 million new jobs in the next four years — but undercuts that by noting this is what "independent economists" have projected will happen anyway.

To be fair, Team Obama "insisted that Tuesday's push was long-planned," says Julie Pace at The Associated Press. The pamphlet's publication coincided with a new ad, filmed before the last debate, that makes the final case for Obama's re-election, both underscoring his record while promising a better future. Watch the ad below:

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