Back from his Martha’s Vineyard vacation, President Obama would like to use this week to trumpet his economic prescriptions and better define his Republican opposition ahead of looming fiscal battles.
But White House officials instead will be forced to focus on a series of controversies that mushroomed during the president’s golf getaway, ranging from new revelations about the scope of National Security Agency surveillance programs to violence in Egypt and another delay of a major Obamacare provision.
The president on Thursday will start a two-day bus trip through upstate New York and Pennsylvania to highlight his blueprint for making college more affordable.
When the White House planned the trip, they hoped that Obama’s time alone on center stage — Congress is away on its summer recess — would give them an advantage in setting the terms for fall’s fiscal feuds.
But now that limelight is hardly benefiting the president.
Obama is still searching for answers about how to respond to violent protests in Egypt, with critics saying the administration has lost its credibility on the issue. Despite the growing bloodshed, Obama continues to stand behind the $1.3 billion in annual U.S. aid to Egypt, a tool that analysts say is the administration’s lone point of leverage in the conflict.
Obama, in his sole public remarks from Martha’s Vineyard, said officials were reviewing further steps about how to respond to Egypt.
On the domestic front, White House officials for the first time on camera will have to respond to a report that the NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, collecting Americans’ information it wasn't allowed to gather. The revelations have angered Democrats in particular, who have vowed to hold additional hearings on surveillance techniques that already had the Obama administration on the defensive.
And the administration will face more questions on its decision to delay until 2015 the cap on out-of-pocket costs Americans would pay under their health insurance plans — the change was just discovered last week in a cryptic explanation of the new law on the Labor Department’s website.
In addition to his bus tour later in the week, Obama will host a private meeting Monday with regulators to discuss efforts to strengthen the financial system. And on Tuesday the president will honor the 1972 Miami Dolphins for their undefeated season.