Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Greg Sargent: "Obama’s political dilemma"

Greg Sargent:
Yesterday, Eric Cantor said that the American Jobs Act is dead on arrival in its current form. This isn’t a surprise; no one expected it to pass in its current form. Obama and his advisers have been urging Congress to pass the whole bill as is, but no one expected Congress to listen to him, perhaps least of all Obama himself. He will continue to prod Congress to pass the whole bill, in hopes of getting parts of it passed, and in hopes of persuading the public that he is trying to act on jobs, but Congress won’t let him.

A new CBS poll finds that nearly seven in 10 don’t think Obama has made real progress in fixing the economy. Today’s Post poll finds Obama’s approval at an all time low of 42 percent. Yet at the same time, multiple polls have shown that large majorities, including of independents and moderates, support the fiscal policies Obama is championing — and that Republicans oppose.

The political dilemma Obama faces is stark: Republicans benefit politically from blocking measures that majorities think would help unemployment. Even if Republicans hold lower approval numbers than the president — and even if Republicans are blocking job creation measures that the public supports — the plain fact is that as long as the economy struggles, Obama will continue to pay the largest political price for it. He runs the place.

The only conceivable way out of this trap is to either get something passed or to get the public to focus their anger and blame on Republicans for refusing to support his proposals. And that’s where the American Jobs Act — dead, or not — comes in. The White House will continue to campaign for it. For all their griping about it, Senate Democrats will take it up this month, and it remains to be seen how Democratic leaders will proceed.

But we do know that nothing will happen in the House. And Obama will have to hope that House Republicans will make a potent enough foil to enable Obama to break a political dynamic that, at present, seems unbreakable.

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