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Obama Speech Puts Ball in GOP’s Court

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The November 2012 elections will be defined by how Congressional Republicans react to the gauntlet thrown down by President Obama on Capitol Hill last night. Here are their choices and the political implications:

  1. Pass the American Jobs Act. Puts all the risk/reward for the economy through November 2012 on Obama. If the unemployment rate goes down, Obama gets the credit; if not, we could be looking at President Romney.
  2. Reject the American Jobs Act. Puts all the risk/reward for the economy through November 2012 on Republicans. If the economy improves despite continued inaction, Republicans can bask in the glow; if not, President Obama can blame the do-nothing Congress for the continuing slump.
  3. Pass some elements of the American Jobs Act, reject others. The political ramifications of this option aresn't that far off from #2 – President Obama could still say "Well, I told them what I'd do, and they didn't do it, so if you want to know why the economy still stinks, ask Eric Cantor."

Given how GOP-pushed austerity is devastating employment, this seems like exactly the right strategy for President Obama. If he hadn’t introduced a sizeable bill and demanded it be passed right away & as written, Obama faced the possibility of voters blaming him for the terrible results of defacto GOP economic policies. Now Congressional Republicans get to choose their own destiny – and it’s hard to imagine they’ll choose wisely.

  • relawson

    If the Republicans go along they can blame the failure on Obama.  Don’t kid yourselves – this plan will fail.  It may create a token number of jobs at great cost, but it won’t make any sizable dent in the unemployment level.

    The best political response for Republicans would be to support a bill that will fail (well, at least everyone not up for re-election) so the others up for election can say “told you so”.

    This is exactly the type of gamesmanship I hate about politics.  But these thoughts are going through everyone’s superficial insincere minds as I type.  How many times do government bailouts need to fail until people get that they don’t fix long-term problems?  They fix temporary problems.  We have a long-term problem that needs a long-term fix.

    If you are lucky, Republicans will obstruct.  Then you can say “if only those Republicans had gone along with our plan things would be better”.

    Unemployment is NOT going down before the election in any dramatic fashion if this is the solution.  Republicans are making the wrong political move if they obstruct this bill.  If I worked for them, I’d tell them to scrape together just enough votes to make it happen – and no more.  I’ll bet that’s exactly what happens because anyone who’s done the math knows that this plan isn’t going to make a meaningful difference in unemployment.

    A strong Republican turnout means they think the plan will work, just enough means they are playing politics, and no Republican support mean whatever you think it means.