Friday, October 07, 2011

Obama Threatens Congress over Jobs Bill

It was a rather odd press conference Thursday morning with President Obama and the White House press corps. Obama was a mix of low energy, dourness, and random bursts of defiance. It was his malaise press conference.

President Obama really, really wants to be re-elected. President Obama knows it isn't looking so good for his re-election. So, in order to have some juice to run on, he has decided to use the Republicans in Congress as his foils. He actually said that if the Republicans in Congress will pass his jobs bill, then he will not have to run against them using their opposition as an issue.

If Congress does something, then I can’t run against a do-nothing Congress. If Congress does nothing, then it’s not a matter of me running against them; I think the American people will run them out of town, because they are frustrated, and they know we need to do something big and something bold.

You can take the man out of Chicago, but you can't take the Chicago out of the man.

So as we look towards next week, any senator out there who’s thinking about voting against this jobs bill, when it comes up for a vote, needs to explain exactly why they would oppose something that we know would improve our economic situation at such an urgent time for our families and for our businesses.

Now, with respect to working with Congress, I think it’s fair to say that I have gone out of my way in every instance, sometimes at my own political peril and to the frustration of Democrats, to work with Republicans to find common ground to move this country forward — in every instance, whether it was during the lame duck session, when we were able to get an agreement on making sure that the payroll tax was cut in the first place, and making sure that unemployment insurance was extended, to my constant efforts during the debt ceiling to try to get what’s been called a grand bargain, in which we had a balanced approach to actually bringing down our deficit and debt in a way that wouldn’t hurt our recovery.

Each time, what we’ve seen is games-playing, a preference to try to score political points rather than actually get something done on the part of the other side. And that has been true not just over the last six months; that’s been true over the last two and a half years.

Now, the bottom line is this: Our doors are open. And what I’ve done over the last several weeks is to take the case to the American people so that they understand what’s at stake. It is now up to all the senators, and hopefully all the members of the House, to explain to their constituencies why they would be opposed to common-sense ideas that historically have been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past. Why would you be opposed to tax cuts for small businesses and tax cuts for American workers?

So here’s the bottom line: My expectation and hope is that everybody will vote for this jobs bill because it reflects those ideas that traditionally have been supported by both Democrats and Republicans. If it turns out that there are Republicans who are opposed to this bill, they need to explain to me — but more importantly, to their constituencies and the American people — why they’re opposed and what would they do.

He called out the GOP presidential candidates as being unreasonable in talking about reforms all of them would make. He exaggerated, of course, but it was notable that a sitting president would hold a press conference to bolster support for a very unpopular piece of legislation and then bring in his opposition to his re-election.

You’ve got Republican presidential candidates whose main economic policy proposals is, we’ll get rid of the financial reforms that are designed to prevent the abuses that got us into this mess in the first place. That does not make sense to the American people. They are frustrated by it. And they will continue to be frustrated by it until they get a sense that everybody is playing by the same set of rules, and that you’re rewarded for responsibility and doing the right thing as opposed to gaining the system.

During the press conference, as he whined about the stated political goal of the Republicans to make him a one term president, he slipped and called Senator McConnell, Minority Leader, as the Majority Leader.

Projection, much?

It should be noted that Obama -- in promoting passage of his jobs bill -- made the reference to McConnell in protesting the leader's stated goal of making him a one-term president:

"The election is 13, 14 months away. I would love nothing more than to not have to be out there campaigning because we were seeing constructive action here in Congress. That's my goal. That's what I'm looking for.

But I'm also dealing with a Republican majority leader who said that his number one goal was to beat me; not put Americans back to work, not grow the economy, not help small businesses expand, but to defeat me. And he's been saying that now for a couple of years."

And, not much time passed after the press conference before there was repudiation of his numbers and claims of what the jobs bill will accomplish. The AP fact checkers have a list. Here is one:

In challenging Republicans to get behind his jobs bill Thursday, President Barack Obama argued Republicans have supported his proposals before, demanded that they explain themselves if they oppose him, and challenged others to come up with a plan of their own. The rhetoric in the president's quick-moving press conference dodged some facts and left some evidence in the dust.

OBAMA: "If it turns out that there are Republicans who are opposed to this bill, they need to explain to me, but more importantly to their constituencies and the American people, why they're opposed, and what would they do."

THE FACTS: While Republicans might not be campaigning on their opposition to Obama's plan, they've hardly kept their objections a secret.

In a memorandum to House Republicans Sept. 16, House Speaker John Boehner and members of the GOP leadership said they could find common ground with Obama on the extension of certain business tax breaks, waiving a payment withholding provision for federal contractors, incentives for hiring veterans, and job training measures in connection with unemployment insurance.

They objected to new spending on public works programs, suggesting instead that Congress and the president work out those priorities in a highway spending bill. And they raised concerns about Obama's payroll tax cuts for workers and small businesses, arguing that the benefits of a one-year tax cut would be short-lived. The memo also pointed out that reducing payroll taxes, which pay for Social Security, temporarily forces Social Security to tap the government's general fund. And it opposed additional spending to prevent layoffs of teachers, police officers and other public workers.

I think it is more and more obvious that President Obama doesn't understand economics and doesn't much care, either. It continues to look as though he just pulls numbers from the air. There is no rhyme nor reason to his logic.

Bloomberg surveyed 34 economists last week about Obama's jobs bill and found that the median GDP growth they projected was just 0.6%.

In fact, just two of the 34 claimed the plan would grow the economy by the 2% Obama cited. In contrast, five said it would produce zero growth. Another three predicted that much of the modest gains in 2012 would be canceled out by slower growth it caused in 2013.

Likewise, only three economists predicted job gains anywhere near what Obama claimed. And the median forecast was a piddling 288,000 new jobs. Given the $447 billion price tag, that comes to $1.6 million per job.

The country has lost confidence in Obama's ability to solve the big problems and put us on the path to economic recovery. Three years into his term, he continues to blame everyone but himself. It is as though he has checked out and is now on auto-pilot as he uses the re-election campaign as a convenient diversion from his day job.

When the going gets tough, we Americans demand a tough President. Not a runner.

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