The Republican Party declined to offer an official live rebuttal to last night’s jobs speech by Barack Obama, which Nancy Pelosi called “disrespectful.” However, Speaker John Boehner issued a brief statement after the speech noting that Republicans and Democrats seek “common ground” in which they can work to improve the economy. Boehner also said that Obama’s “proposals merit serious consideration,” and expressed hope that Obama would grant Republican proposals the same attention.
Has the tone changed? House Majority Leader Eric Cantor appeared on CNN to stress “commonalities” between the parties:
Republicans seem to have decided that there is enough in the proposal that they can adopt — if they break it into pieces. Infrastructure spending in a sea of red ink won’t be part of that, and we can expect a fight over another extension of jobless benefits as well. Cantor sounds encouraged by elimination of red tape in federal bureaucracies, but it’s likely that the Republican idea of bureaucratic reduction isn’t what Obama and Democrats have in mind.
So why take such a reasonable approach? The GOP seems to figure that Obama won’t take a reasonable approach, a safe bet considering his failure to try it any time in the past. The White House is almost certain to insist on passing the proposal in toto with no changes, when they finally get around to writing and submitting it. Republicans, who got cut out of the process of building the first stimulus bill while in the minority, are not going to take dictation from Obama this time around. But by framing the fight over an all-or-nothing, pass-it-now demand and a responsible parsing of the elements of a bill that will have a price tag around $450 billion, the GOP may believe that they can argue that the President is not acting like the adult in the room. And they’re probably right.
Meanwhile, Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler gets a sense of deju vu from last night’s speech:
The speech mostly gave us a sense of déjà vu. From the president’s language, you would never know that Congress already has acted under his watch to save jobs — the $800 billion stimulus plan passed shortly after he took office.
“Over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs,” Obama proclaimed in a speech to a similar joint session of Congress on Feb. 24, 2009. We’re not sure about the jobs saved part, but the country has certainly not created jobs since then — there are almost 2 million fewer jobs since he made those remarks 2 1/2 years ago. That gives a sense of the economic burden he will carry into his reelection campaign.
Be sure to take his pop quiz on what exactly got recycled from Porkulus into Porkulus II.