Axelrod Says ‘Pure Politics’ May Undermine Economic Stimulus

President Barack Obama’s upcoming job stimulus plan and proposals to curb the national debt are endangered by politics, said David Axelrod, campaign strategist for the president’s re-election effort.

The failure to reach bipartisan consensus is due to “pure politics,” Axelrod said in an interview that aired yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Republican strategists such as Karl Rove countered on other news shows that Obama’s policies are falling short and jeopardizing his chances of winning a second term.

“The only thing that keeps us from acting on many of these things is pure politics,” Axelrod said. “The fact that we can’t agree to extend a payroll tax cut for working Americans is bewildering to me, and the only explanation is politics.”

Obama plans to announce steps next month to stimulate the economy as U.S. unemployment measures 9.1 percent and banks including Citigroup Inc. (C) have lowered economic growth forecasts for next year.

The economy is sputtering three years into Obama’s term in part because of tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush and the cost of two wars that began during the Republican’s administration, said Axelrod.

Lowering the unemployment rate has eluded Obama because his efforts to stimulate growth continue to falter, said Karl Rove, the former top strategist to Bush.

“His policies have utterly failed,” Rove said of Obama yesterday on the “Fox News Sunday” program.

Bad Policy

Obama’s re-election is at risk because of growing voter disenfranchisement, Ed Gillespie, a former Republican national committee chairman, said yesterday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“The biggest threat to his re-election is the growing sense that this president may be in over his head,” said Gillespie. “You’re starting to see that take root with voters, especially independent voters.”

Obama “can complain about bad luck. The reality is it’s bad policy,” he said.

The president’s job approval rating was 40 percent in a Gallup daily tracking poll taken Aug. 14-16 after earlier hitting 39 percent, the lowest since he took office. Congressional approval was at 13 percent, tying an all-time low, in a Gallup Aug. 11-14 poll.

Still, Obama’s re-election effort raised more than $86 million in the quarter ending June 30, eclipsing the combined haul of the 2012 Republican field.

Benefit Cuts

Obama will lay out proposals for “modest” benefit reductions in programs such as Medicare to pare the deficit in the long term, while pressing Republicans to extend a 2 percentage-point payroll tax cut set to expire at the end of this year, Axelrod said.

The president will also push for funding of road projects, bridges, education and research to create jobs and reinforce longer-term economic competitiveness, he said.

Obama’s 10-day vacation, which began Aug. 19 on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, is sending “not the right signal” to voters, Gillespie said yesterday on the CBS show.

“I don’t begrudge the president for taking some time with his family and taking a vacation, I’m sure it’s got to be exhausting wrecking an economy as big as the United States,” Gillespie said.

Also yesterday, Republican presidential candidate and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. criticized his rivals for the nomination in an interview on ABC’s “This Week. He said they showed ‘‘zero leadership’’ during the debate over raising the U.S. debt ceiling.

Huntsman also said Texas Governor Rick Perry’s comments casting doubt on the theory of evolution and the human role in global warming were a ‘‘serious problem’’ that may lose Republican voters.

‘‘I wouldn’t necessarily trust any of my opponents right now,’’ Huntsman said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Viola Gienger in Washington at vgienger@bloomberg.net; Stephanie Armour in Washington at sarmour@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ann Hughey at ahughey@bloomberg.net

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