Today President Obama announced that he was sending his job creation plan to Congress, urging them to take swift action saying, “I am sending this bill to Congress today, and they ought to pass it immediately.” The White House is clearly trying to put pressure on Congress, and particularly the Republicans in the House, to move the legislation quickly to avoid a scenario in which the bill simply dies from neglect. Key to the Obama administration’s campaign will be public support.
Over 31 million Americans watched President Obama’s speech last Thursday when he introduced his plan. The President originally wished to speak on Wednesday, but the later date may have actually worked better as his jobs speech was delivered to a larger audience than many of his previous nationally-televised addresses. The President even beat out the opening game of the NFL season between the New Orleans and Green Bay Packers, which had an audience of 27 million.
However, from previous experience the Obama administration must know that momentum can quickly be lost. Nothing can sap public support more quickly than the slow-moving, “sausage-making process” involved in passing bill. The Senate will be less of an issue in the early-going since that chamber is controlled by Democrats, but the Republicans could always filibuster the bill when it comes to the floor. The House is even more difficult. The bill will need to pass through a Republican-controlled committee and then the White House will somehow have to convince Speaker Boehner to bring the bill to the floor. Garnering enough Republican votes for the bill in the House may present the biggest challenge.
If the bill is to succeed it will need widespread public support among not only Democrats, but also Republicans and independents. In an effort to gain that support the Democratic National Committee is now running a television ad in key swing districts urging passage of the legislation. The ad includes a link where viewers can go to the read about the key aspects of the bill.
The legislation has already received a stamp of approval from economists, who say it could create well over 1.3 million jobs in 2012 if passed. The bad news for the White House is economists do not pass legislation, Congress does.
While the President said the bill would be an “insurance policy” to prevent the United States from falling into another recession, the legislation also may serve as a political insurance policy for the Obama administration. If the bill does not pass the Congress will at least partially share the blame for any economic fallout that results. This may have been why Speaker Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor signaled support for at least some of the President’s proposals immediately after his Thursday speech. If the economy does go into another recession, the Republicans would certainly want to make sure that the President gets the blame.