The Chances for Passing the Jobs Bill Are Not Zero After All

Republicans were more open to the proposals in his big speech than expected

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President Obama demanded that members of Congress "pass this plan" eight times during his 34-minutes jobs speech Thursday night -- will they do it? Looks like Obama has a not-as-bad-as-expected chance to push through a greater-than-zero percentage of it. As The New Republic's Jonathan Chait points out, Obama managed to please the liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and his conservative colleague David Brooks. Even more shocking, at the end of the speech -- and after a year of war with Republicans in Congress -- Republicans appeared to not entirely hate the plan. Sen. Scott Brown -- a Massachusetts Republican, granted -- shrugged, "It's time to unite. Who doesn't want good roads and bridges?"

How Obama bettered his odds:

David Frum argues that Obama's speech was cunning, and that by "stressing past Republican approval of the major elements of the proposa" he "ingeniously put Republicans into an awkward spot." Both House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said there were parts they liked. Roll Call's Steven T. Dennis and Daniel Newhauser called Republicans' response "unusually scattershot," not just because many of the measures have been backed by Republicans, but also because Obama's "the lack of details" -- like how to pay for it. Politico's Jonathan Allen and Elizabeth Titus are more skeptical, arguing that Republicans wanted to deny Obama the chance to make them look like "reflexive 'naysayers.'" There are little ideas the GOP wants to carve out of the plan to pass on their own -- as Rep. Lee Terry  warned, "If it's all wrapped in one package, that's not going to see the light of day." But the "real meat" of Obama's proposal won't be so popular.
How he can win over skeptical Republicans:
But as The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports, Democrats in Congress want Obama to lobby hard for this bill -- and not just through speeches in Washington. They want the president on the phone with lawmakers and campaigning for it in their districts. And Obama does plan to win over reluctant Republicans by getting governors and mayors in his side. ABC News' Michael Falcone and Amy Walter report that Michigan's Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is already showing Obama's plan might have support outside the capital, issuing a statement saying in part:
"The president proposed cutting payroll taxes for small businesses in half to encourage job growth … the president proposed ending loopholes for corporations... These are changes that will help create an environment where jobs can grow, and they should be considered by Congress."
NBC News' First Read says that it was "surprising" how "conciliatory" Republican congressional leaders were. Why were they so nice? "The GOP leadership reads polls and cares about them," First Read writes. But to get the bill through Congress, they have to convince two groups: "the base and the presidential candidates." (The people running to replace Obama in the White House issued statements condemning the plan.) But even if Republicans can't get their Tea Partying colleagues to go along with everything, Obama looks to be in a better spot: "Realistically, if half of the proposal get passed, the White House would see that has a victory."
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