The GOP Jobs Quandary

The GOP Jobs Quandary
by David Atkins ("thereisnospoon")

The LA Times reports that the GOP is in a jobs quandary:

Rooney's candid assessment puts a fine point on the political predicament facing GOP lawmakers when it comes to jobs bills. With President Obama touring the country to sell his $447-billion plan, Republicans increasingly are under pressure to present an alternative vision for reviving the economy.

For months, the party has focused on shrinking the government, sparking ugly battles with Democrats over the budget and the debt ceiling. But with job growth back at the top of the congressional agenda, Republican lawmakers have found themselves without a clear strategy to reduce the 9.1% national unemployment rate.

To many Republicans, ignoring the issue likely to define the next election is a risky proposition. While political wisdom holds that voters typically unload economic frustration on the president, lawmakers like Rooney have reason to be restless: Congress' approval rating has been in the tank for months, and tied the all-time low of 13% last week, according to a Gallup poll.

"We get a lot of email saying, 'We want all incumbents out. That includes you. We put you in, we'll take you out,'" Rooney said.

The GOP solution? Take some bills you were going to push anyway, and call them jobs bills while avoiding doing the people actually want, like taxing the wealthy:

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has revived talk of his chamber's jobs plan, which is not a bill but an outline of proposals. The House this week will take up a tax measure and a copper mining bill — both billed as jobs legislation.

The push comes as Congress begins a weeks-long political volley over jobs legislation. The Democratic-led Senate has said it will bring up slices of the Obama bill, rewritten to pair spending with a popular tax on people making more than $1 million a year. Republicans, who have sworn to oppose all tax increases, know they are in for series of tough votes.

"President Obama hasn't closed the sale with the public on his latest stimulus, but one theme does appear to resonate. It may be the result of larger environmental conditions, or he may be moving the needle himself, but Obama's 'tax the rich' mantra is getting traction," said Steven Law, president of the GOP advocacy group Crossroads GPS, wrote in a memo Friday.

The GOP jobs "quandary" is actually much simpler: after months of deliberately trying to prevent jobs from being created in order to weaken President Obama's re-election prospects, Republicans are figuring out that their own electoral futures might be compromised if they don't do something real about unemployment, particularly given the President's more aggressive rhetoric of late.

So far, their response is to pretend to do something about it and hope the public doesn't notice. I doubt that will cut it.