What will happen if Republicans say yes?
President Obama challenges Congress. Last night – the President pitched his much anticipated jobs plan to a joint-session of Congress – calling on Members to immediately pass what he’s calling “The American Jobs Act” – a $447 billion proposal – filled mostly with $250 billion worth of tax cuts – with the rest of the money going toward infrastructure spending – aid to states – and an extension of unemployment benefits. The President hammered home the point that these are all proposals that have garnered bipartisan support in the past – and there’s no reason why Republicans shouldn’t support them this time around.
As for how this bill will be paid for – the President outsourced that decision to the Gang of 12 – calling on them to find an addition $447 billion worth of cuts or revenue raisers in addition to the $1.5 trillion they’re already tasked with finding. But the President did say he hopes they looked toward raising revenue from the wealthiest in America – people like Warren Buffett who pay a lower tax rate than his secretary – to cover part of the cost of the jobs bill. He also called for cuts – or in his words “modest adjustments” – to Medicare and Medicaid too. As for the tone – the President was nearly pitch-perfect – and finally showing some of the fight many progressives have been waiting to see.
Now the big question - will Republicans say "Yes"? If they do, they take away the President's ability to play Harry Truman and run against a do-nothing Congress, and the economy will still be in bad shape. If they say "No," they hand Obama a big club to use against them. The worst scenario? They say "yes" to parts of it, he caves in and compromises for a weaker bill, so the economy still sucks next year, but he can no longer run against Congress. This is starting to get interesting.