- The Washington Times - Friday, November 8, 2013

Several times during his presidency, President Obama has tried to “pivot” back to the economy and away from the topical stories-of-the-day — from the IRS to Benghazi to spying — that often have sidetracked this White House in his second term.

On Friday, with his signature health care reform law struggling to get off the ground and the White House under fire from both sides of the aisle, the president pivoted away from health care to the rest of his second-term agenda, cramming a laundry list of priorities into a 20-minute speech.

“Let’s make it easier for more businesses to expand and grow and sell more goods made in America to the rest of the world. Let’s make sure we’ve got the best ports and roads and bridges and schools. Let’s make sure our young people are getting a great education,” Mr. Obama said during a speech at the Port of New Orleans, where he addressed a crowd before heading off to Democratic Party fundraising events Friday night.

“Let’s give everybody a chance to get ahead, not just a few at the top, but everybody. If we do that, if we help our businesses grow, our communities thrive and our children reach a little higher, then the economy is going to grow faster. We’ll rebuild our middle class — stronger.”

A day after apologizing to the nation for mounting technical and policy glitches from his Obamacare national health law, the president tried to turn the focus to multiple other issues.

He did address health care briefly, but spent much of his time pushing Congress to pass a farm bill; approve immigration reform; invest in roads, bridges and other infrastructure; make investments in K-12 education; fund important scientific and medical research; level the economic playing field; and pass more free trade agreements.

“They are not partisan issues. They’re American issues,” he said.

On health care, the president again expressed his frustrations with HealthCare.gov, saying he wishes he could personally fix the balky website but doesn’t know enough about computer code to do so.

Mr. Obama also stressed that the health care reform process will be long and frustrating — something he realized long before Obamacare became law.

“I took up this cause knowing it was hard. There was a reason why no other president had done it,” he said.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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