President Obama is relaxing with his family on a weeklong vacation at Martha's Vineyard, but he has already framed the debate for this fall on economic and other issues.
He is portraying the upcoming fights as a collision between the government-oriented initiatives of Obama-led Democrats versus the intransigence of Republicans who are stuck in the past with their conservative less-government philosophy.
Obama told reporters that the repeated House GOP efforts to repeal the Democratic health care law known as "Obamacare" indicated an "ideological fixation."
The president added Friday: "There's not even a pretense that they're going to replace it with something better."
He has also argued in a series of recent speeches in Galesburg, Ill.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Phoenix that the Republicans are wrong for demonstrating "slash-and-burn partisanship" and focusing on "phony scandals."
He says the best course for strengthening the economy and cutting the federal deficit is to raise taxes on the rich and big corporations, modestly cut spending, and invest federal money in education and rebuilding the nation's infrastructure. He also says Republicans are blocking progress on an immigration bill.
Republicans counter that Obama is hurting a full economic recovery by pushing for tax hikes that kill jobs and restrain growth. They favor deep spending cuts and no tax increases.
All sides are maneuvering to make gains in the midterm elections of 2014.
Obama would appear to have an advantage going into the fall debates over the economy and other issues because his public standing is far better than the standing of Congress. Real Clear Politics finds that, on average, 43.6 percent of Americans approve of Obama's job performance and 51.1 percent disapprove. Congress's approval rating is far lower, with only 15.7 percent of Americans approving of Congress's job performance and 75.8 percent disapproving.
Obama also has an advantage because his presidential bully pulpit allows him to get more attention from the public and the media than congressional leaders.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.