White House Looks to Lawmakers to Help Push Economic Message

Posted November 30, 2009 at 3:57pm

With soaring unemployment threatening to swamp the broader Democratic agenda, the White House is enlisting House Democrats for help selling a new jobs-focused message to their constituents. Ahead of a jobs forum that President Barack Obama is staging Thursday, administration communications staff on Monday briefed their House Democratic counterparts on framing the effort. As part of the push, the White House wants Democratic lawmakers to hold town hall discussions back home over the next three weeks on the state of the economy and efforts to revive it. “Member participation in community forums will help raise the profile of the meetings and increase turnout from the community,— according to a White House memo to House Democratic press secretaries. The memo suggests lawmakers try to address some “core— questions through the sessions: “What is working in your local economy? What isn’t working? What are the opportunities to promote hiring in your community? What are the obstacles?—Aides in attendance said their bosses are already well aware of the urgency of the unemployment situation — and are anxiously awaiting more clarity from leadership on the shape of a jobs bill that the majority expects to move this month. The national unemployment rate recently climbed above 10 percent. White House aides on Monday also outlined what to expect from the Thursday summit, which, like previous issue-focused forums that Obama has convened, will include a number of breakout sessions. Separate groups will drill down on green jobs, small-business job growth, infrastructure investments, transitioning to a more export-driven economy, encouraging businesses to hire and retraining workers.Following the jobs forum, Obama is set to hit the road to highlight the issue himself, beginning Friday in Allentown, Pa.