There is work to be done, there are workers ready to do it, and that's why I expect Congress to act immediately.The President of course spoke in general terms about politics in Washington claiming the livelihoods of working Americans and a potential shutdown harming our infrastructure, but it wasn't in doubt as to who it was directed to. At least not for those people. Boehner sniffled:
Really? I thought government jobs weren't jobs, Mr. Speaker? Translation: The President got ahead on this one, put us in a corner, and now we will have a harder time holding these workers hostage. Wuaaaa!Republican reaction to Obama's push for the highway bill was swift, with a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner accusing the president of using irresponsible scare tactics."Aside from the president today, no one has suggested the highway bill will be allowed to expire," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said. "Republicans support an extension of the highway bill and appreciate the need for a long-term solution for infrastructure projects."
And to add a little insult to the GOP injury, the President requested time to address a joint session of Congress with his jobs speech next week on September 7 at the same exact time the Republican presidential field of crazies are scheduled to have a debate in the Ronald Reagan library in California.
I keep hearing from media pundits about how the debate in the White House is whether the President should go big or go small (but achievable) with his speech. Apparently, the people in the media has never paid attention to President Obama. He has always gone big, challenged Congress to do something big, but been willing to accept what is pragmatically achievable. Look at the debt limit deal. The president offered a big, $4 trillion package. The president's substantive ideas have always been geared towards job creation, and his political strategy, at least since the Republicans took power in the House, has been to expose the Republicans for their insanity and backing them into a corner.
That strategy, however, takes time. It involves first being able to claim the ground of the adult in the room. The President has done that by being willing to compromise in the interest of keeping the government running and in the interest of ordinary Americans. Second, it takes exposing the other side for being the petulant children that they are. The debt limit and budget debates in Congress have perfectly demonstrated that. So much so that Speaker Boehner wouldn't even say the word "compromise." Third, it takes the revival of the idea of compromise as the responsible way to govern in divided government. And that involves rescuing it from the media and ideological stranglehold equating compromise with weakness. The President has done that too.
And so, a perfect storm is coming together. On the one hand, American people are hungry for a national jobs message and initiative, and by expecting the President and Congress to do something about it, they have left behind the conservative frame that the government cannot (and more importantly, should not) create jobs. On the other hand, the same American people who are mad at everyone in Washington, but they do understand who is standing in the way of good governance - which is why Republicans are coming back bruised from the town halls in their districts.
The people want their representatives to start acting like adults, and they want jobs. I will bet you anything that on the night of September 7, that is exactly going to be the president's message. He's going to go big, call the Congress to action, back the Republicans into a further corner, and call on the American people to turn up the heat.