Why the jobs bill is political grandstanding
Following the president's speech on Thursday night, House Majority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) said that there were parts of Obama's plan that the GOP could support and should be passed without delay. Other aspects of the proposal -including the controversial infrastructure bank - could be negotiated, or more likely, dropped.
This seems a logical, prudent, and reasonable approach to any large legislative initiative. A half a trillion dollars may not raise much of an eyebrow among the liberals in Washington, but most Americans see that as an extraordinarily large amount of their tax dollars. If the president wants fast action, the congress could pass those elements of the president's proposal where there is consensus and agreement. Other elements in the president's plan would be taken on one at a time and rise or fall on the merits of the idea.
If there's one thing we've come to realize about this administration, it is not "logical, prudent, or reasonable" when it comes to legislation. It is, in fact, arbritary, hyper-partisan, and imprudent. If more proof were needed on this score, the White House is calling out Republicans to vote on Obama's entire package, up or down:
Yesterday, after the President finished up his speech last night, House Republicans responded by signaling an openness to passing parts of Obama's new jobs bill, while signaling disapproval of Obama's vow to barnstorm the country to get the American Jobs Act passed in its current form.
"The message was: either accept my package as it is, or I will take it to the American people," Eric Cantor said. "I would say that that's the wrong approach."
Today, the White House offered its answer: Sorry, we want the whole bill passed. Nothing less.
With the spin war over the speech now shifting to a phase where Republicans are telegraphing a desire to compromise, even as Obama hits the road to sell his whole plan to the American people, this exchange on MSNBC this morning between Chuck Todd and White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer struck me as important:
TODD: The bill gets sent to Congress next week. Are you guys assuming that it gets sort of piecemealed, that at the end of the day you're going to get some of what you want but not all of what you want?
PFEIFFER: No, we're not assuming that. The president said it 16 times, I'll say it a 17th time today. He wants them to pass the American Jobs Act. That's the piece of legislation he's sending up. It's a simple thing. Puts the Americans back to work and puts more money into the pockets of working families. Our belief is that everything in this bill is reasonable. Everything in the bill has bipartisan support. Everything will have an effect right now. And so we want them to pass it.
Well, Sieg Heil, mein Fuhrer. No amendments? No input from the majority in the House? Abandon the legislature's constitutional responsibilites?
No president ever, ever, gets everything he wants in a bill. The president "proposes," the congress "disposes." That's what we learned in Mr. Hellerman's civics class 40 years ago - a lesson lost on a president and an administration who apparently are more enamored of scoring political points than getting America back to work.
There are, in fact, good ideas in the president's plan. If he was really interested in increasing employment, he would rejoice at those elements of the bill where bi-partsan agreement is easily reached and could be enacted in days.
But this is bill is not about jobs; it's about votes. And the administration's political grandstanding on this vital issues proves it.