09.09.11 4:45 AM ET
‘Pass the Bill!’
The president wants to save American jobs but may have to settle for saving his own. Howard Kurtz on how Obama finally laid down a marker against the Republicans.
Barack Obama looked forceful, almost angry, in his much-ballyhooed speech to Congress, pitching a plan that he promised would deliver a “jolt” to the nation’s sagging economy, and perhaps to his presidency as well.
But whether that happens depends in large measure on an aggressive White House plan to take the fight to the Republicans who have thwarted most of his agenda.
Like Harry Truman decades ago, Obama is saddled with a midterm election loss and low approval ratings. But with his jobs speech the president found a new voice—and perhaps his inner Truman, says Harold Evans.
Has Barack Obama found his inner Harry Truman?
The parallels are eerie. Truman in 1946 lost midterm elections, just as Obama did last fall. The Republicans took the House (their first time since 1930) and the Senate. Truman’s approval ratings tanked, falling much lower, at 32 percent, than Obama’s have done. Unemployment wasn’t the issue it is today, but inflation was just as scary, and one in 10 of the labor force went on strike in 1946.
The president showed he has a way forward, and now has to build support for his jobs plan and find out if he can rally the country around his ideas—and his reelection. By Eleanor Clift.
If President Obama’s speech were only about economics, its proposals would pass easily in both chambers of Congress. Though bigger and bolder than expected, it is still at its core a common-sense mix of ideas that both Democrats and Republicans have supported. The costliest portion, an extension of payroll tax relief for workers, has been sweetened to include a reduction of the tax for employers as well, something Republicans should find hard to resist.
7.57 pm. This was also a speech aimed directly at his own party—rallying the troops, creating a framework for the campaign ahead, betting that things are bad enough that the infrastructure spending and the tax cuts will not alienate debt-concerned independents. In style, the last thing it was was professorial. This was a blunt, potent, confident attempt to win back the hearts of a disillusioned base, while appealing to the center in ways Republicans may feel a little leery of rejecting, given their already deep reputation for obstructionism.
The president outlined a jobs bill that might work, but by not talking about the causes of the economic crisis and why it’s lasted so long, he ceded the story to the GOP, says Peter Beinart.
Over the next 14 months, Barack Obama may well save his presidency. But he didn’t begin that effort tonight. Obama outlined a jobs bill. It may be a good one. What he didn’t outline was a story that connects that jobs bill to the economic crisis we’ve been facing for almost three years.