U.S. President Barack Obama has had one overriding priority since taking office five years ago: fixing an economy that had gone off the rails and restoring the foundation of his country's international status.

It would be disingenuous to insist that this focus on economic recovery is divorced from political considerations — voters always vote according to their wallets — but every major policy and strategy document released by his administration is premised on the belief that it is U.S. economic strength that sustains America's position in the world.

The challenge for Mr. Obama has been restoring growth at a time when he faces implacable opposition from Republicans to almost everything he does, and their bedrock belief that the most pressing economic problem is not growth but tackling a ballooning national deficit. This last position is especially problematic since it deprives Mr. Obama of the Keynesian remedies that previous administrations used — and that virtually every credible economist recommends.