For Obama, new focus on the piecemeal

By ERICA WERNER and JIM KUHNHENN | October 25, 2011 | 3:30 PM EDT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The president who ran for office promising sweeping change now finds himself calling for baby steps.

Blocked by congressional Republicans yet determined to show action as he seeks re-election, President Barack Obama has scaled back his ambitions from major initiatives like universal health care, to smaller-bore programs he can do on his own or that are uncontroversial enough for Republicans to go along. Think patent reform, reducing health regulations, or helping with student loans.

Even his jobs bill has been broken into what the president calls "bite-size pieces."

The new approach represents a pragmatic shift by an administration with limited tools to fix the dismal economy, and a recognition of political reality when the opposition controls part of Congress and an election year looms.