President Obama did a masterful job in his speech before a joint session of Congress last Thursday night. He knocked it out of the park! And he simultaneously loaded the bases for his team! More than just a fiery speech of solid substance, his address set up the field for 2012. In one stroke he put the GOP at a great disadvantage and at the same time set forth a plan that can really help Americans. Even John McCain's 2008 economics advisor projects that the Obama plan could raise GDP by 2 points and cut unemployment by a full point in 2012.
Plus America could stop firing teachers, firemen and cops. Obama has proposed $35 billion for just teacher hiring. Another $30 billion is slated for school repairs and renovation. And lots of billions are in there to fix our broken bridges and mend our worn roads. And, oh yes, rehiring those laid-off cops and firemen. These are quick-results proposals.
Obama also found a way to get around the babyish desire of the sometimes-majority of Americans who want two incompatible things: federal job creation and no federal deficit spending. He assigned to the Joint Congressional Committee on deficit reduction the task of identifying cuts that will pay for his new $480 billion proposal. His plan will, therefore, be paid for. Those who want to eat their cake and have it too just got their wish. And he's insulated himself from GOP criticism that he's Mr. Big Spender.
More than that, he's done something supremely smart legislatively. First, he's getting Congress to do what only Congress can do: the finances. Second - and extremely important - he's securing the highest possible chance that the funding for his proposal can pass both the House and Senate and do so quickly. Under the rules of the agreement last spring that set up the Joint Committee, the deficit-cutting legislation the Committee proposes is greased to go right to the floor of each house for an up-or-down vote. No lingering in committees, no fear of filibuster, no refusal by the House majority leader to schedule a vote, no amending.
What happens politically if the Committee does provide the cuts to cover the cost of Obama's jobs plan BEFORE the GOP House acts on his jobs proposal? (The Committee must act before Thanksgiving.) If the Committee acts first, the recalcitrant GOP House would be stuck with trying to explain why it won't approve a jobs program that is ALREADY FUNDED by cuts! Take that, Eric Kantor!
Picture this! Obama in September 2012 standing on an obviously defective bridge in Eric Kantor's Richmond VA district, scolding Kantor for failing to take care of his own constituents' needs. There are over 90 such broken bridges just in Kantor's district!
Go get 'em, Barry!