With all eyes on the Super Committee as it finishes determining the fate of the federal budget, Congress has been more quiet than normal. The same cannot be said about the White House, however, as President Barack Obama has taken a series of executive actions to promote his own economic policy agenda. In the past week, the White House has announced plans intended to help veterans, homeowners, teachers and student loan borrowers. But will any of these initiatives move the needle on a stalled economy or provide relief to cash-starved state budgets?

After a five-year impasse, Congress on Oct. 12 passed free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea. The three bills received substantial bipartisan support and passed with majorities in both houses.

After failing to pass the American Jobs Act, President Obama has asked the Senate to split off elements of his marquee jobs initiative for separate consideration. The first item to be considered will be $35 billion in grants for state and local governments to support public sector jobs titled the “Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act of 2011.” 

In a nation divided between red and blue, states increasingly agree on green. Not the much discussed “green jobs” that draw cheers or jeers depending on the audience, but on the greenbacks that are flowing through states from one of the few things that appears to be working in our economy—exports. With the president’s submission of three pending trade agreements to Congress, exports might also be one of the few areas where both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue can reach agreement.

President Barack Obama on Sept. 8 addressed a joint session of Congress to roll out the American Jobs Act. In the wake of a still stagnant recovery, the bill includes a combination of tax breaks and new spending designed to give the economy a booster shot and hopefully put more people back to work.  If passed by Congress, the bill would provide more than $35 billion to state and local governments to retain or rehire teachers and public safety officials. The tax measures used to pay for the bill, however, may ultimately come back to bite the very state and local governments it is designed to support.