Last week, the Associated Press’ fact checkof a speech implied that Barack Obama might be losing touch with reality. Today, they make the argument more explicit in reporting on Obama’s push on his new jobs bill. Their headline reads “Obama’s jobs bill sales pitch disconnects rhetoric, reality,” and they take him to task for it (via Rob Port):
When Obama accuses Republicans of standing in the way of his nearly $450 billion plan, he ignores the fact that his own party has struggled to unite behind the proposal.
When the president says Republicans haven’t explained what they oppose in the plan, he skips over the fact that Republicans who control the House actually have done that in detail.
And when he calls on Congress to “pass this bill now,” he slides past the point that Democrats control the Senate and were never prepared to move immediately, given other priorities. Senators are expected to vote Tuesday on opening debate on the bill, a month after the president unveiled it with a call for its immediate passage.
The AP concludes that Obama is campaigning, not governing, which has become painfully obvious ever since his speech to a joint session of Congress a month ago. The bill itself contains a number of poison pills that even his own party rejected in 2009, when Democrats had full control of Washington. In fact, Senate Democrats have had to change the rules to keep Obama’s bill from getting a vote at all, not because Republicans oppose it but because a number of Democrats oppose it as well, at least in the form Obama has been pushing the last four weeks.
John Boehner made the same argument on Friday:
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Thursday said President Barack Obama has “given up on the country” to focus on his re-election rather than working with Republicans to boost the economy.
“Mr. President, why have you given up on the country and decided to campaign full time instead of doing what the American people sent us all here to do?” Boehner said. “And that’s to find common ground to deal with the big challenges that face our economy and our country.”
As Obama held a news conference in the White House a few blocks away, Boehner said the Democratic president had shown no leadership by holding rallies around the country to promote his $447 billion jobs bill rather than negotiating with Republicans to pass legislation that would bring down the 9.1 percent unemployment rate.
The plan itself broke no new ground. Indeed, it closely resembles the 2009 stimulus bill, with its mix of infrastructure spending, temporary tax breaks, and another round of bailouts for states. But if the rehashed jobs plan was a passive disappointment, Obama’s new deficit reduction plan is an aggressive partisan attack — the very kind that Obama blasted in his joint-session speech earlier in the month. Obama warned his political opponents that voters wouldn’t wait for an election 14 months away to deliver solutions, and that Democrats and Republicans had to work together now to solve the big problems facing the nation:
“Already, we’re seeing the same old press releases and tweets flying back and forth. Already, the media has proclaimed that it’s impossible to bridge our differences. And maybe some of you have decided that those differences are so great that we can only resolve them at the ballot box. But know this: The next election is 14 months away. And the people who sent us here — the people who hired us to work for them — they don’t have the luxury of waiting 14 months. ” …
Obama mailed in both proposals rather than engage in the hard work of governance. If Obama had any interest in actually passing his deficit-reduction plan, he would not have filled it with tax hikes that have floated around the Beltway for years — and which both Republicans and Democrats have rejected in the past. The jobs bill was even less creative than his approach to deficit reduction, cribbed from a failed and costly exercise in central economic control. Obama didn’t bother to put much effort into either because he has no intention of doing the hard work needed to accomplish actual deficit reduction or improve the job-creation climate. The president has more than a year to go before the next election, but Obama has stopped governing and has shifted entirely to campaign mode. This is what it looks like when a president quits.
That’s now the AP’s conclusion as well:
He is waging a campaign, one in which nuance and context and competing responses don’t always fit in if they don’t help make the case. …
John Sides, political science professor at George Washington University, said Obama’s approach on the jobs bill is “more about campaigning than governing.”
“He’s mostly just going around talking about this and drawing contrasts with what the Republicans want and what he wants and not really trying to work these legislative levers he might be able to use to get this passed,” Sides said. “That just suggests to me that he is ready to use a failed jobs bill as a campaign message against the Republicans.”
Obama doesn’t want to get anything accomplished except win another election. He had 14 months to work with Republicans before the next election; heck, he had 34 months to work with Republicans before that speech. Instead of trying for a compromise on the basis of comprehensive tax-code reform, which both parties would like to accomplish, Obama decided to declare war on capital instead and provoke demonstrations in the streets. It’s a petulant and impotent response to the utter failure of his economic policies, and the OccupyWallStreet protests won’t be enough to distract people from that reality — even if Obama can’t face it himself.