The White House is betting big on Congress approving at least portions of President Obama’s jobs bill. How big?
“I will buy everyone in here a drink if by the end of the year there is no action on the jobs bill,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney promised roughly 75 media members at his daily briefing Thursday.
“Can we lock that in?” one reporter asked.
“How about a cranberry juice?” wondered another.
Carney was responding to a television reporter’s suggestion that, with Republicans denouncing much of the president’s $447 billion jobs package, the White House should settle for trying to score a political victory with voters, rather than a policy victory with Congress.
After all, the reporter added, the Democrat-controlled Senate has not even scheduled a vote on the bill yet.
“I utterly reject your premise,” Carney said. “Members of Congress will have a lot of explaining to do when they go home at the end of the year if they’ve done nothing, nothing, to address the urgent need to help our economy and create jobs. ... Their constituents are demanding it.”
Obama, who is barnstorming the country to sell the plan to the public, will visit St. Louis and Dallas next week. Still, reporters wanted to know why the president has not had any recent discussions with Republican congressional leaders about the jobs plan.
Carney, looking perturbed, reminded the press corps that when Obama was meeting with Republicans during the summer debt-ceiling crisis, reporters had written stories noting that the president had failed to offer a written plan on how he would reduce the debt.
Now, Carney continued, the situation was the opposite: Obama has released a detailed written plan.
“Now the question is, Where is the meeting?’” Carney said. “There is a written piece of detailed legislation called the American Jobs Act that Congress can act on and will take up. Where it goes from there remains to be seen. I do not share your pessimism.
“If Congress were to pass portions of it, we obviously support all of the elements, the president would sign them and then demand the rest come his way,” Carney added.
Yet Carney’s wager on drinks could prove to backfire. After all, the press secretary, an avid Boston Red Sox fan, knows a thing or two about dashed hopes.
He opened Wednesday’s briefing by acknowledging his dark mood over “the travesty” of his team’s late-season collapse that culminated in the Sox missing out on the playoffs Tuesday night.
Carney even held up a chart showing the volatility of the team’s chances to make the World Series each year.
“There’s a reason you play the game,” he said, “because when statistical probability says...”
“‘The Curse’ is back,” one reporter said, referring to Boston’s long World Series drought that was ended in 2004.
“I hope not,” Carney said.
On more than one playing field, no doubt.