Obama's urgent jobs plan: Right now, 'right now' means sometime next month maybe
Everybody remembers the urgency of President Obama's attitude toward the awful jobs situation.
Back in early August, Obama said the jobs situation was so urgent that he was going to give another speech about it -- in a month or so, in September after his vacation on Martha's Vineyard.
And then in September the president announced he would give his major jobs speech to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 7. But he neglected to check with congressional leaders first. And they suggested the 8th. So, since it was their House, the 8th it was.
"Tonight," the president said in the first 34 of his 4,021 words to a national television audience that night, "we meet at an urgent time for our country. We continue to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless, and a political crisis that has made things worse."
The speech got panned as another political campaign one with Obama announcing, in effect, that....
This is the kind of thinking that can make sense within Washington. But since "stimulus" has become a laugh line, he didn't use that word anymore.
And, hey, the debt ceiling had been raised to $16 trillion.
(Speaking of which the president spoke on the deficit this morning in another speech because he's a Real Good Talker.)
So why not spend a half-trillion more to look like he's doing something about the terrible jobs situation with 14+ million unemployed?
If Republicans didn't bite, no one would know Obama's Plan B was never going to work anyway. And he could try to blame the GOP next year for failing schools and rusting bridges. This also seems to make sense within Washington these days.
The president was in such a hurry to get this new spending going, everyone remembers, that during that address he said the phrase "right now" seven times. He didn't actually mean right now that night because the NFL season was opening a few minutes after his remarks.
But Obama did want to show how really urgent he said the situation was, even though it had taken him 961 days as president to say them. And even though from Day #1 of the brief Obama Era polls had shown jobs and the economy were the No. 1 priority among voters but he pursued healthcare and financial reforms first. And even though unemployment had been at or above 9% for 26 of the last 28 months.
So, given the president's professed urgency, the next day, Sept. 9, everyone asked where was his jobs legislation?
And, well, it seems the urgent jobs bill hadn't actually been written yet but should be ready in a week or two. When the laughter died, the White House said on second thought the legislation would be ready for a photo op the next Monday.
Well, here we are on the next Monday after that next Monday and we've just learned from the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, that actually it seems that body won't really be seriously getting into the legislation for a while yet. The Senate has some other more important business to handle. And then there's this month's congressional vacation, which in Washington is called "a recess," like elementary school.
Here's the revealing exchange with a persistent host Candy Crowley on CNN's "State of the Union:"
CROWLEY: When is the bill going to get on the floor?
DURBIN: The bill is on the calendar. Majority leader Reid moved it to the calendar. It is ready and poised. There are a couple other items we may get into this week not on the bill and some related issues that may create jobs. But we're going to move forward on the president's bill. There will be a healthy debate. I hope the Republicans will come to...
CROWLEY: After the recess, so next month? Or when will it actually begin to act on?
DURBIN: I think that's more realistic it would be next month.
So, as of right now, "right now" uttered on Sept. 8 really means sometime at least one month later.
Good thing the president's own Democratic party controls the Senate. Because, otherwise, there might be some kind of silly, unnecessary delays in deliberating Obama's urgent jobs bill that he says will surely help the nation's unemployed millions if only those Republicans don't connive to slow things down.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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Photos: Associated Press; Pete Souza / White House.