Previewing Obama's Jobs Speech

Obama will urge Congress to act quickly on proposals that will make him more popular

This article is from the archive of our partner .

President Obama's jobs speech has been hyped like crazy. Since he announced he'd give it weeks ago, we've picked over whether it could accomplish anything, analyzed Obama's logistics fight with John Boehner over the timing of it, and watched Republican presidential candidates offer rival jobs plans. Now, like Christmas, without the treats, the speech is here. What can we expect?

What he has to do
Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown argues that Obama has to talk to several different audiences--he has to convince Democrats that he's fighting hard enough for their ideals, independents that he'll he has specific proposals to fix the economy, and some Republicans that they should help him pass those proposals.
The Washington Post's Greg Sargent says Obama must start making it "increasingly uncomfortable politically for Congress -- Republicans in particular -- not to act on his proposals, or some variation of them." Commentary's Alana Goodman agrees that Obama wins in the short term if he sounds reasonable. But a long-term victory seems harder, because Congress probably won't pass a stimulus without spending cuts. "The political difficulty of getting Obama's new stimulus through Congress, and the prospect the plan will pile on more debt, already has Wall Street downplaying any temporary market bounce," Goodman writes.
And why would Republicans have any incentive to help Obama get more popular? A fatalistic John Cole says we already know what will happen: "Obama will propose something moderate and imminently reasonable" and then both the left and right will scream bloody murder. "Someone else can deal with this clusterfuck, because I'll be watching NFL."
How he'll do it
Sargent says Obama must emphasize two things: that everything he's proposing is bipartisan, and that it "would provide immediate relief to the American people."
Budoff Brown says it's clear Obama will take an "urgent and insistent" tone. What's less certain is how hard the president will hit Republicans--who are already suspicious of the speech because Obama had wanted to give it the night of the Republican primary debate.
The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky says Obama needs to tell Republicans:
"I have shown my good faith. You haven't shown yours. I've tried to do it the nice way. You keep wanting to fight. So now, if it's a fight you want, it's a fight you’ll get. Not for me, or for my job, but for the American people, for the unemployed and the underemployed and everybody whose lives are made tougher by this economy. That's a fight I'm thrilled to have, because I am on their side, and you people are on the side of the top 2 percent."
But Tomasky doesn't think that approach is very likely. Neither does Cole. But if he were Obama, he'd "go all in"--"Nothing he is going to propose tonight is going to get passed without being watered down to nothing," so the president might as well ask for something big.
The specifics
Obama's chief of staff, Bill Daley, told the Today show that Obama's plan will be called "The American Jobs Act." The Hill's Mike Lillis explains that Obama will probably ask for $300 billion in infrastructure (the latest number, which we report here, appears to be $450 billion) and other public works money, as well as a payroll tax holiday. Republicans are skeptical of both. But First Read reports that "Every major idea [the White House is] are putting forward are ones that normally get some GOP support."
Bloomberg's Caroline Baum is skeptical: "Let’s face it: If the president had a plan to create jobs, he wouldn’t have kept it under wraps until now. Why take flak from Republicans and heat from the public if you have what it takes to turn the economy and labor market around?"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.