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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 08:48 AM ET, 09/14/2011

The Morning Plum

* Will Republicans really feel pressure to act on jobs? My pick for read of the morning is this Politico story detailing the thinking behind the White House’s big jobs push. Apparently Obama advisers are betting that John Boehner and House Republicans will ultimately agree to much of Obama’s jobs bill because Republicans will feel that doing nothing on the economy is not an option for them:

President Barack Obama needs House Speaker John Boehner’s help to muscle a jobs bill through Congress, but he’s betting that Boehner needs the win just as badly.
The White House strategy rests on the risky assumption that Obama can sell Boehner on a new political reality: With voters desperate for jobs, neither leader can afford to do nothing.
It’s a twist on the conventional wisdom that Republicans can ignore a weakened Obama. His approval ratings are low, but Congress is worse off, senior administration officials said Tuesday. House Republicans hold a 48-seat majority, but more than 60 of them will run in districts that Obama won in 2008 — and will contest heavily next year, the officials said. And while the tea party may loathe Obama’s plan, the coveted independent vote does not, they added.

As I’ve been noting here regularly, the White House — by drawing a firm line and demanding passage of the whole jobs bill — is trying to flip a dynamic that has ensnared Obama in the past. The question, though, is whether House Republicans will really feel pressure in the manner the White House is hoping. House GOP leaders have been signaling a new willingness to cooperate with Obama on jobs, which suggests they are aware of the political perils of not acting.

But Republicans don’t support Obama’s mode of government intervention, and it remains unclear if there’s any ideological common ground that can be found when it comes to new stimulus policies. And as I noted here yesterday, Republicans benefit politically by opposing Obama policies — even ones that have public support — because the President pays the heaviest price for a bad economy.

So it still seems possible that Republicans could move to defuse any White House pressure on them to act by passing parts of the bill, dismissing the rest of it as more failed stimulus policies, and calling it a day. But it’s now clear that Obama is prepared to respond to such a move by mounting a major public campaign designed to gain the political upper hand, hopefully highlighting GOP obstructionism in a way that diverts public anger over the economy away from him and at Republicans. And the White House seems primed and ready for this fight — and optimistic about its outcome.

The big unknowns are what this will produce, if any, from the GOP in the way of meaningful policy concessions — and what political price, if any, Republicans will pay if they don’t make any meaningful policy concessions.

* Will bad economy increase pressure on Congress to act? Relatedly, the Times goes big with a piece this morning arguing that the bad economy has actually increased the prospect of some kind of real policy response from Washington.

But it’s still unclear that Republicans will feel more pressure to act, for at least in terms of supporting the kind of new stimulus that has broad support from economists.

* Why GOP gains from blocking policies Americans support: Kevin Drum endorses my reading yesterday of the problem Obama faces on the economy — the GOP is reaping political dividends from blocking Obama’s fiscal policies even though Americans actually support them — and adds this sobering point:

Is it possible to overcome this dynamic if you barnstorm the country making it clear that your opposition has been working day and night to keep the economy in a ditch? The historical evidence doesn’t provide much hope on that score, but then again, I’m not sure an incumbent in recent memory has really tried very hard to make something like this stick. Certainly Obama hasn’t given it much of a go yet. But there’s still time before next November.

I guess we’re going to find out soon enough if this can be made to work.

* White House is psyched for big jobs fight: Along those lines, Sam Youngman notes that the White House thinks they can win by presenting Obama as a fighter for jobs:

What the president’s aides want — and what they need — is for independents and Democrats to view Obama as their fighter. And after a summer of polls painting Obama as a weak leader, the president is desperate to be viewed as the one politician in Washington fighting for the middle class.
What’s more, Obama appears ready to fight. For real this time.

Yes, he does.

* What does the Dem loss in two special elections mean? With Republicans casting their big wins in Anthony Weiner’s district and in Nevada as a referendum on Obama and a bad omen for Dems in 2012, Nate Silver urges caution in seeing national implications in the results but does see troubling signs for national Dems.

Key footnote: Silver notes that many of the district’s Jewish voters are Orthodox, which suggests — despite the frantic spin to the contrary from the right — it’s hard to draw conclusions about what it means for Obama and Jewish voters in 2012.

* Special elections not predictive? Nonpartisan observer Larry Sabato: “Caution: Specials are no more predictive than opinion polls 14 months out.”

* How will Democrats react to the losses? As Chris Cillizza notes, the key question is how Democratic officials across the country will interpret the results — if they see it as a referendum on Obama and his economic policies, they could prove more reluctant to support his agenda.

* Romney and Perry battle for the West: Erin McPike on how Brian Sandoval’s endorsement of Perry has Romney scrambling to build support in Western states, a sign that this is now certain to be a long and grueling contest that stretches far beyond the early primaries.

Interesting footnote: Romney is hoping that Perry’s heresy on immigration — he refuses to endorse a border fence and won’t disavow his law giving in-state tuition to some children of illegal immigrants — will help him in the region.

* Republicans gird for long, drawn-out primary battle: A good overview of the view Republican leaders around the country are taking as they settle in for what will likely be an epic battle. Note the mounting fears of the impact Perry and his positions on Social Security would have on the Congressional races if he’s the nominee.

* And can Professor Elizabeth Warren run as a populist? Simon van Zuylen-Wood has an interesting and detailed look at the ways in which the “Harvard elitism” charge can be used to undermine Warren’s populism among key Massachusetts voting blocs.

What else is happening?

By  |  08:48 AM ET, 09/14/2011

 
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