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Obama agenda: Obama as Reagan?

In the Sunday Washington Post, Dan Balz looked at the similarities and differences between Reagan’s first two years as president and Obama’s. “Both men succeeded unpopular presidents of the opposite party. Both offered big and bold plans… Both presidents were forced by events that preceded their elections to contend with economies in serious trouble. Both saw the unemployment rate rise sharply during their first two years in office -- under Reagan, the rate hit 10.8 percent by November 1982 -- and both saw their approval ratings decline as the numbers of jobless grew… Republicans suffered significant losses in the House in Reagan's first midterm election, giving Democrats an even larger majority. Most Democrats are braced for a similarly bad night this November.”

But: “The economy rebounded significantly during Reagan's third and fourth years in office. The unemployment rate declined, although not spectacularly. It was still at 8.3 percent in December 1983 and at 7.5 percent in August 1984 as the general election campaign was entering its final months… the contrary, the outlook for 2011 and 2012 is far more modest. The Congressional Budget Office said in its latest forecast last week that the pace of growth in the coming years "is likely to be slower than usual" compared with past recessions.”

The Sunday New York Times reported that the president "plans to make a high-profile speech on the drawdown next week, and aides are discussing whether to have him meet with returning troops. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will address the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Indianapolis on Monday."

The Washington Post notes how Republicans are criticizing Obama’s 10-day vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. “One potential complication: Obama has spent far less time on vacation than his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, had at this point in his presidency. Veteran CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller, a fastidious keeper of presidential statistics, has kept count. By his tally, Obama has embarked on nine ‘vacations’ since taking office, bringing his total days off to 48. Some of those trips lasted a day and some, like his Christmas holiday in Hawaii, more than a week. By comparison, Bush had visited his ranch in Crawford, Tex., 14 times at this point in his administration and spent 115 days there. And yes, Democrats let him have it, too, complaining that he was a chronic vacationer.”

The Boston Globe: “Thus far, the vacationing president and his family have stayed mostly out of view, which political specialists say reflects a justifiable demand for privacy combined with White House concern about negative political fallout if the president is shown enjoying a privileged retreat during hard economic times.”