But the president is not done. He is just getting started. This is the president, speaking in Pittsburgh, right before the Senate vote, that everyone knew the Republicans would be blocking.
Did you watch it? This is not a president weary of the outcome. This is a president confident in his plan, fed up with Congressional roadblocks, and reaching out to the American people. If he has to whip Congress into shape to create jobs for the American people, he will. If they won't, he will make the next election a referendum on the Republican attack on our economy.
The president has reason to be confident. A while back, I laid out how the president has systematically and methodically broken down Republican talking points and won the messaging war, specifically convincing the American people that not all tax-raisers are equal and that raising taxes on the rich and multinational corporations is in fact a good idea. Those feelings among the American people continue to run strong, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released today:
But when the legislation's details are included in a follow-up question -- that it would cut payroll taxes, fund new road construction, extend unemployment benefits, and that it would be paid for by increasing taxes on the wealthy -- 63 percent say they favor the bill and 32 percent oppose it.Two-to-one. That's the margin by which Americans are united behind the president's ideas to create jobs - and specifically, to the progressive economic policies. While in last night's debate, Republican candidates did their best to groan and moan and whine that increasing taxes on the rich is a bad idea and we should instead abandon our social compacts, they are demonstrably fighting for the votes of the 30 percent. President Obama and his team has only turned up the heat on the Republican members of Congress, forcing them to choose between a political gamble to intentionally undermine the economy in the hopes that it would hurt the president in 2012 and actually doing something about jobs now.
What's more, 64 percent of respondents agree with the statement that it is a "good idea" to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations, because they should pay their fair share and can afford to pay more to help fund programs and government operations.
So what is it that is keeping the entire country from cracking a proverbial public pressure whip on Congress? Well, thanks to our corporate press and sensationalized media, the public remains uninformed about the American Jobs Act. Let's go back to the NBC/WSJ poll for just one second and take look at the paragraph preceding the ones talking about the broad based support of the president's bill when the people are given the specifics.
When asked simply if Congress should pass the legislation or not, 30 percent of respondents answer yes, while 22 percent say no; 44 percent have no opinion.Without specifics, a plurality of Americans are unsure about the bill, even if support edges out opposition. Given the specifics, support more than doubles. What does that indicate? It indicates that people do not know enough about the jobs bill. They don't know the specifics and are caught in the smoke and mirrors of the media and the Republican lie campaign.
This is why the president continues to go around the country and push for the bill. If the media won't do its job and educate the American people, the president will. This is not a case where he has to convince policymakers to vote for the bill. Members of Congress know what's in it, and whether they support it, and why or why not (note, the why not part mostly consists of sticking it to the President politically). There is no tweaks that can be made in the bill to get policymakers who are opposed on board. The remaining force? Popular pressure. To break down the do-nothing Republicans by opening a can of whoop-ass from the people who hear the president's message.
And as Eclectablog pointed out yesterday, as the president continues his campaign for the American Jobs Act, not only is the plan itself gaining support - perhaps too much for Congress to stay silent much longer - the president's favorability and approval ratings are also going up, while his negatives are falling. So not only are the Republicans losing the contest on policy (which they almost always do), they are also losing on their political goal (oops). Barack Obama is making them eat their own dogfood, and there's not a damn thing they can do about it. See it again and weep, GOP:
This is a winning issue for the president, because it is a winning issue for the American people. The American people want jobs. And they want - believe it or not - the government to do something to make that happen. The Republicans hounded the president for a written, scoreable jobs plan that they could presumably ridicule and campaign against. Once the president laid out the details, wrote them down and provided a way to pay for them, the Republicans are still in disarray as to why they are against this jobs bill. There are no coherent response from the Republicans as to why this is a bad idea except the fact that it was proposed by President Obama (and perhaps the tired old "job creators" meme, which the president also took away from them). Don't believe for a second that the President's camp hasn't noticed. The president has upped the legislative ante along with the political pressure. His campaign sent out an email yesterday reading:
[The Republicans'] strategy is to suffocate the economy for the sake of what they think will be a political victory. They think that the more folks see Washington taking no action to create jobs, the better their chances in the next election. So they’re doing everything in their power to make sure nothing gets done.This is why the Republicans hate Obama so much. He's not just a policy wonk who is a brilliant orator, he is also better at politics than they are.
You also cannot ignore the surrounding events when you consider the president's position. The "supercommittee" recommendations are due next month on deficit reduction. Congress is under tremendous pressure to show they can actually do something, if the Republicans have any hope of not letting the president run against a do-nothing Congress and hoist the Republicans on their own petard. As the year comes to a close, people are going to get more agitated about the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits extensions expiring. Which means they will pay more attention. And the more attention they pay, the more popular the president's jobs plan gets, and the more the pressure mounts.
That's why President Obama is just getting started. That's why he's not worried. He handled the Republicans just enough rope to hang themselves, and now he's reeling the rope in. The Republicans have two choices: go down in the flames they set for the President, or do something on jobs with the president and destroy flame themselves with the flames of anger from the Teabaggers.
Barack and a hard place.