As free advice flows into the Obama campaign on how to break out of its slump, it’s worth noting that neither the president nor his advisers have yet figured out how to make the Republicans pay for their years of intransigence on improving our economy. Despite repeated Republican obstruction — from Senator McConnell’s infamous quote about making Obama a one-term president to Congressional Republicans refusing to pass job-creating proposals they once endorsed — Obama has not been able to make the opposition pay. This is frustrating, to say the least. Truth is often elusive in politics, but Republicans would seem to bear more of the blame for our country’s failure to address our problems than Democrats. If you don’t believe me, then remember that is the conclusion of bipartisan congressional scholars Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann.
In the past, Obama has tried and failed to make Republican inaction the issue — on the debt ceiling negotiation and on his jobs package. Each time, however, the results were unsuccessful, and the president looked weaker as a result. Now comes a new suggestion on how the president might put the Republicans on the spot. Michael Tomasky argues Obama should make Republicans this deal: Extend the Bush tax cuts for another year in return for funding an infrastructure bank and more aid for states and cities to hire back teachers, firefighters and police officers. This is a smaller version of an idea I have floated: Obama proposing massive deficit reduction along the lines of Simpson-Bowles coupled with economic stimulus. Tomasky’s more focused proposal is a smarter one.