The Obama campaign, in an email to supporters today, goes there:
The U.S. Senate is supposed to vote on the American Jobs Act as early as tonight.
It’s a bill that will put people to work immediately, and it contains proposals that members of both parties have said in the past that they’d support.
But Senate Republicans want to block it. Not because they have a plan that creates jobs right now — not one Republican, in Congress or in the presidential race, does. They only have a political plan.
Their strategy is to suffocate the economy for the sake of what they think will be a political victory. They think that the more folks see Washington taking no action to create jobs, the better their chances in the next election. So they’re doing everything in their power to make sure nothing gets done.
There’s still time for principled Republican senators to declare their independence from this kamikaze political strategy. And the only way it can happen is if they hear from constituents like you today.
As Steve Benen notes, this may be the first time the Obama campaign has officially endorsed the argument that Republicans are trying to destroy the economy on purpose. My guess is that this is about establishing a certain narrative in the media — by raising the accusation, the campaign hopes to get reporters to ask Republicans for a response to it, forcing them to get into an argument over whether they’re really trying to sabotage the economy in order to take back the White House.
This actually isn’t an argument that Dems initially wanted to embrace. As Kevin Drum pointed out back in June, the notion that they’d take this route seemed far fetched. “No serious person in a position of real influence really wants to accuse an entire party of cynically trying to tank the economy,” Drum noted. “But it would sure make headlines if Obama decided to take up this ball and run with it.”
Now they’re going there in a big way.
This seems like a new direction for the Obama strategy, one routed in frustration with the state of our discourse on the economy. Recall that Obama recently called on reporters to give some real scrutiny to the GOP’s jobs plan and ask analysists whether it would actually create any jobs. Today’s blast email seems of a piece with that. The Obama camp is trying to push the media to debate the core question of whether the GOP’s stance on the economy is being offered in good faith or deserves to even be treated as a legitimate contribution to the debate over what to do to solve our national crisis.
As Jonathan Chait noted recently of the Republicans’ approach to the economy: “They have undergone an intellectual conversion at a time that makes very little sense given economic circumstances but a great deal of sense given the partisan circumstances.”
Presumably this argument will grow louder in the weeks and months to come.