The Daily Five: Readings For A Slow Friday

Ok, it's a fast Friday. But still.

1. Totally agree with Ben Smith's thought: opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act, or "card check," has become an enormous contraption -a "full employment program" for out of work (but talented) Republicans. There's a reason for this, though. Forget the budget yesterday; forget changes to LIFO accounting; the major corporate and small business lobbies believe  -- they believe this sincerely -- that card check would be the single most disasterous policy change since the government began to tax corporations.  There are, potentially, billions -- trillions? -- at stake. So a multi-million dollar lobbying effort ought not be surprising.

2. For some reason, Mickey Kaus believes that I'm an apostle of the AFL-CIO and believe that the Democratic Congress will take up card check this year. Well, whatever. But as to the timing: I don't think the White House wants card check this year; I don't think that Democrats have the votes for it. I also don't think that the real battle has begun; both sides are capable of manipulating public opinion polls, but I don't think the American people have focused on the debate itself. I do know that the anti-card check side believes that it has won a framing victory about the "secret vote."

3.  Three very important things to read: The Wall Street Journal on Obama's willingness to take the sacred cow of mortgage deductions and Josh Gerstein's account of the debate within Democratic circles; PD-1 -- the presidential policy directive on reorganizing the homeland security and counterrorism structure inside the White House.

4. Longtime McCain adviser Mark Salter, now in private practice, on what Bobby Jindal's speech lacked:

The over thought staging of his speech (he should have appeared at seated at his desk or in an armchair rather than attempt to imitate a presidential stroll into the East Room), and the curiously emphatic and singsong enunciation of certain words in his address suggest too much coaching.  That said, I doubt one missed opportunity will seriously cloud this promising young politician's future, and I still look to him as one of a few prominent Republican officeholders with the talent and vision to help lead the Party out of the political wilderness it now finds itself in. 

More disappointing than Jindal's delivery was the address itself.  It failed to offer worried Americans compelling alternatives to the sweeping proposals offered by the President, which considered together, promise the greatest government growth and intrusion into areas of private responsibilities since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society.  Instead, Jindal offered an anodyne recitation of Republican opposition to government spending and high taxes.   Americans, even those who are not in danger of losing their jobs or homes, want to know their government has a feasible plan to get us out of the economic mess that has ravaged savings for their retirement and their children's college education.

Jindal spent a considerable portion of his address decrying government incompetence, using the example of the federal government's woeful response to Hurricane Katrina as a reason not to trust it to do anything.  But in these times, Americans aren't satisfied with an alternative that only opposes and doesn't propose solutions to the myriad problems confronting us from ruinously expensive health care to inadequate public education to crumbling infrastructure.  They are looking for leaders with ideas for making government do better what it must do.  Jindal has a reputation for innovative and effective policy ideas for many of the most pressing public concerns.  He should have discussed a few of those Tuesday night as alternatives to the Democrats' insistence on spending more on government programs that have already lost the confidence of the American people.