WASHINGTON (AP) - To a struggling White House, the economy that was supposed to be a political millstone is losing some drag.
An uptick in growth and a downturn in unemployment give the president a stronger story line going into the 2014 congressional election year. They also provide Democrats with a counterpoint to Republican attacks on Obama's health law.
The economy has pushed ahead despite a government shutdown, edge-of-the-cliff deals on the debt, and indiscriminate budget cuts that were supposed to hold back the recovery.
But Obama's fortunes have seesawed for months, marked by ups and downs on foreign and domestic policy.
Whether this economic trend accelerates remains to be seen.
President Ronald Reagan faced remarkably similar circumstances in 1986. Politically, it didn't turn out so well.