Though the jobs bill went down to defeat last night, the White House and Dems managed to salvage something from the wreckage. By securing a majority vote in the Senate for the jobs bill — even as Republicans (with two Dems) unanimously blocked any action on unemployment — they established a baseline for the next phase in this fight, which is to force Republicans to vote on individual pieces of the jobs initiative.
Now the White House is already circulating talking points to outside allies — sent over by a source — instructing them to amplify the post-jobs-vote message. They’re worth a look as a sign of how Obama’s team hopes to gain the political initiative in an environment where his actual policies face steep obstacles indeed:
* Tonight, a majority of the United States Senate voted to advance the American Jobs Act. But, even though this bill contains the kind of proposals Republicans have supported in the past, not a single Republican voted for the bill. Instead, they voted to obstruct it.
* Tonight’s vote is by no means the end of this fight. Independent economists have said that the American Jobs Act would grow the economy and lead to nearly two million jobs, which is why the American people support these bipartisan, common-sense proposals.
* In contrast, Republicans have chosen to put politics ahead of country by refusing to present a plan that these same independent economists say would create jobs or grow our economy now and instead standing in lock step to oppose the President.
* We will now work to make sure that the individual proposals in this jobs bill get a vote as soon as possible.
* In the coming days, Members of Congress will have to take a stand on whether they believe we should put veterans, teachers, construction workers, police officers and firefighters back on the job. They’ll get a vote on whether they believe we should cut taxes for small business owners and middle-class Americans and rebuild our schools and modernize our class rooms, or whether we should protect tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.
* With each vote, Members of Congress can either explain to their constituents why they’re against common-sense, bipartisan proposals to create jobs, or they can listen to the overwhelming majority of American people who are crying out for action. Because with so many Americans out of work and so many families struggling, we can’t take “no” for an answer. Ultimately, the American people won’t take “no” for an answer.
What’s interesting here is that you’re seeing various gradations of the argument — one that Dems appear to be doubling down on — that Republicans are tanking the economy on purpose. Though the reelection campaign made that message explicit yesterday, the White House talking points still only hint at that charge by claiming Republicans are putting party before country, presumably to avoid broadcasting too political message from the White House.
That said, the message is a starkly partisan one, and the claim that “not a single Republican voted for the bill” will please those on the left who want the White House to continue calling out Republicans directly, rather than attack the generic “Congress” in general.
In the end, though, the most telling line is the last one — it’s a bet on public opinion. After all, the plain truth is that Republicans will likely continue to block virtually all of the jobs policies Obama wants. The only thing left to do is to take the argument to the public and hope that the American people come to see Republicans as the only real obstacles to progress on the economy. Ultimately, the battle to come will test whether it’s possible for Obama and Dems to gain the political initiative amid the toxic environment created by high unemployment at a time when the GOP opposition has left him with virtually no legislative maneuvering room to actually fix the problem.