Obama's Job's Plan: Go Bold or Go Bipartisan?
President Obama will deliver a speech after the Labor Day weekend outlining his plan to create more jobs. He indicated that his agenda will include items that both political parties can agree on, but some are asking him to present an even bolder plan.
Before his vacation at Martha's Vineyard this month, Obama was on a three-state bus tour through rural parts of the Midwest. On that tour, he said he would present a plan to create jobs sometime in September.
"If you have a jobs plan, put it out," former Democratic Tennessee congressman Harold Ford Jr., said on an Aug. 21 showing of NBC's "Meet the Press."
Obama, apparently, did not have a completed plan at the time, but simply talked of having a jobs proposal in place soon. Reports are that White House administration officials are currently "scrambling" to come up with a plan by next week, according to The Washington Post.
With Republicans in control of the House of Representatives and Democrats in control of the Senate, crafting a plan that can pass both chambers presents a challenge for Obama. The plan would need to have job creation strategies favored by both liberal and conservatives. Republicans favor lowering taxes and reducing regulations. Democrats favor increased government spending.
Since Republicans are unlikely to favor a bill with spending increases that are not offsets by spending cuts elsewhere in the federal budget, the parts of Obama's plan that increase spending are likely to be modest.
Just this week, Obama appointed Princeton economist Alan Krueger to replace Austan Goolsbee as head the Council of Economic Advisers. Krueger, who specializes in the study of labor issues, is expected to play a large role in the jobs plan. He previously served under Obama as an economist in the Treasury Department.
"You're going to have to design something micro targeted and much less costly in the budgetary dollars. These are the kinds of things that labor economists, and Alan Krueger in particular, have a lot of insight on," fellow Princeton economist Alan Blinder told The Washington Post.
Some, however, think that Obama's jobs plan should be more focused on winning re-election in 2012 than actually reducing unemployment. Liberal columnist Eugene Robinson, in an editorial for The Washington Post, for instance, advises Obama to "go bold," rather than try to reach a compromise with Republicans.
"This is a moment for the president to suppress his reflex for preemptive compromise," writes Robinson. Robinson is fully aware that this would mean putting forth a proposal that has no chance of passage, but Robinson's goal is to get Obama re-elected in 2012, not to pass legislation.
"Republican leaders in the House of Representatives would immediately declare any such ambitious program dead on arrival. The president should welcome their opposition-and campaign vigorously against it," writes Robinson.
Roger Hickey, co-director of Campaign for America's Future, a liberal interest group, agrees with the "go bold" strategy. In an interview with Politico, Hickey said, "Even though [Obama] knows Republicans will not allow it to pass Congress, this is a debate that will be settled only by the election, and he needs to go into the election telling the truth about what it will take to get out of this perpetual high-unemployment rut that we're in now."
Unclear, however, is how another big spending bill proposal would help Obama win over the independent and moderate voters he needs in order to secure a second term.
A new Associated Press-Gfk poll shows that only 3 in 10 white independents say that Obama deserves to be re-elected. In 2008, Obama won 50 percent of the white independent vote.
Gallup conducted a poll in August 2009 several months after Obama's stimulus bill was passed. In that poll, only about one-third of independents believed that the stimulus bill would improve the economy, and two-thirds said they would oppose a second economic stimulus bill.
Some ideas that have been discussed, and may be part of the jobs proposal, include: extending the payroll tax cut, extending unemployment benefits, paying companies to hire those currently receiving unemployment benefits, increased spending on infrastructure projects, tax cuts for wind and solar power, and helping homeowners refinance their mortgages.
House Republicans have said that they will pass some jobs creation bills this fall that will focus on tax cuts and reducing regulations on businesses.