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Like a minimum wage hike, the MyRa initiative will benefit only certain segments of the American population and isn’t the kind of broad economic proposal that many hoped to see from the president.

But from a political perspective, Mr. Obama’s approach could prove helpful to his credibility and to Democrats in the fall elections, said Lara Brown, director of the graduate school of political management at George Washington University.

“Even if they’re only playing, as everyone says, small ball, any actions are going to be seen favorably by the American people, and Republican objections to them will be perceived as obstructionism,” she said. “You’ve got to rack up the points. That’s what’s going on here. Even if you perceive this as a laundry list of modest proposals, if the president can enact with his pen and his phone a number of these, then they get to walk around the country and say, ‘I did this, this and this.’ Even if they affect very few people.”