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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.