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Why the White House is wooing millennials

Rick Newman
·Senior Columnist

This just in from the White House: President Obama has helped everybody, and wants to keep helping. This week’s beneficiary: Millennials.

The White House just published a paper highlighting “15 economic facts about millennials." The report doesn’t reveal much we don’t already know about millennials, but it does pull together the whole range of challenges they face in one concise summary: There aren’t enough good jobs for young workers. Student debt is out of control. A weak economy is forcing millennials to delay many important life decisions, such as buying a home, getting married and having kids.

The report walks a line that’s becoming familiar in the president’s stump speeches: Obama has championed several policies he maintains have directly helped these young Americans (generally aged from 15 to 35, or so). Among them: the Affordable Care Act, lower interest rates on student loans and fair-pay legislation. But there’s still a lot more that needs to be done.

For anybody missing the point: Midterm elections are coming soon, and for all the help millennials may need, Democrats need more, since they’re at risk of losing control of the Senate to Republicans. Young voters lean Democratic and it’s an opportune time to remind them that Obama’s their man in Washington.

The millennials, of course, have been derided as narcissistic, pampered and poorly prepared for the real world. But you won’t find any of that in the White House report.

Instead, the report emphasizes the positive: Millennials are better educated than prior generations, while also being more tech-savvy and civic-minded. “While there are substantial challenges to meet,” the White House says, “no generation has been better equipped to overcome them than Millennials.”

The thing is, overcoming the challenges facing millennials is going to take a while, as young workers struggle to get careers started, pay off student debt and even leave home.

As you might expect, Obama’s economic plan includes plenty of help for young Americans. He wants to take further steps to make college affordable, create new federal programs that will align job seekers with openings and make it easier for first-time home buyers to finance a purchase.

“We have seen some improvements, but we certainly need to see more,”Jen Mishory, executive director of the advocacy group Young Invincible, tells me in the video above. “Particularly when it comes to really addressing the rising cost of college, rising student debt and youth unemployment rates.”

But first, there are the midterms, and Obama’s fellow Democrats in Congress are on the ropes. Turnout among young voters is expected to be weak, partly because they’ve gotten so turned off by the political infighting in Washington. It will take more than one report to change their minds about that.

Rick Newman’s latest book is Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback To Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.