THE MORNING LINE -- August 17, 2011 at 8:42 AM ET
President Obama to Present Jobs Plan in Post-Labor Day Speech
President Obama feeds the press as he walks out of Kernel Cody's Popcorn Shoppe in LeClaire, Iowa. Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.
In addition to flooding the airwaves and newspapers with images of President Obama in the heartland hearing from rural and small-town Americans, the White House informed reporters Wednesday that the president plans to give a major jobs speech immediately after the Labor Day holiday on Sept. 5.
It's no accident that the Midwest bus tour and the announcement of an upcoming major speech occurred in the days leading up to the president's 10-day vacation with his family on Martha's Vineyard, where he will be mostly off the grid.
The Associated Press' Ben Feller was first out Wednesday morning with details of the speech, which White House aides promise will contain lots of new policy initiatives.
"Seeking a jolt for a wilting economy, President Barack Obama will give a major speech in early September to unveil new ideas for speeding up job growth and helping the struggling poor and middle class, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.
"The president's plan is likely to contain tax cuts, jobs-boosting infrastructure ideas and steps that would specifically help the long-term unemployed. The official emphasized that all of Obama's proposals would be fresh ones, not a rehash of plans he has pitched for many weeks and still supports, including his 'infrastructure bank' idea to finance construction jobs.
"On a significant and related front, Obama will also present a specific plan to cut the suffocating long-term national debt and to pay for the cost of his new short-term economic ideas.
"His debt proposal will be bigger than the $1.5 trillion package that a new "supercommittee" of Congress must come up with by late November."
"The president will then spend his fall publicly pressing Congress to take action as the economic debate roars into its next phase. Both the economic ideas and the plan to pay for them will be part of Obama's speech, although the address will focus mainly on the jobs components."
After the partisan gridlock that was on display in Washington for much of the summer, many of the president's advisers don't anticipate Congress easily passing the jobs legislation he puts forth in the September speech, all but guaranteeing President Obama will travel extensively throughout the fall selling his plan to the country.
There's plenty of time to pre-game the speech, but one immediate challenge for the president will be how he balances a continued commitment to spending restraint and deficit reduction while calling for short-term spending aimed at stimulating job growth and economic revival.
Has the stagnant economy and persistent unemployment caused Americans to be more open to the idea of needed short-term stimulus spending, despite the recent successes Republicans have found by focusing almost exclusively on the need to restrain Washington spending?
That question will be lingering over the president's post-Labor Day pitch and will likely help frame the political debate for the fall.
There's little doubt that if President Obama shifts the Washington debate from deficit reduction, which dominated this town for much of the last seven months, to one about a jobs plan, he'll be cheered by many Democrats on Capitol Hill who have been disgruntled with the president of late and have been pushing for precisely such a shift in the political terrain.
Republicans are likely to suggest that more government spending with tax hikes is a prescription for economic failure.
It's that debate both sides will take to the country for the better part of the next 14 months.
MIXED BAG IN WISCONSIN RECALL ELECTIONS
The two Democratic Wisconsin state senators facing recall elections won their races comfortably Tuesday evening, putting an end to a dramatic and expensive recall election that was a proxy war for a national battle over spending and worker rights.
Democratic incumbents Jim Holperin and Robert Wirch retained their seats Tuesday, which means Wisconsin Republicans control the Senate by a narrow, 17-16, margin. Nine members -- six Republicans and three Democrats -- faced recall in the wake of a nasty fight over Gov. Scott Walker's budget cuts and, in particular, his policy of reducing collective bargaining rights for public sector unions.
The results do not really paint a clear picture of a winner and loser, despite as much as $35 million spent on the recalls, which included money from national interest groups. While Democrats were not able to wrest control of the state Senate from Republican hands, they came close and didn't lose any of their own seats. Republicans, on the other hand, could argue that this isn't a wholesale rejection of Walker's policies or the decision by state Senate Republicans to approve them.
Tom Tolan, Lee Bergquist and Georgia Pabst of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel lay out how the new political dynamic in Wisconsin will give moderates, like the one Senate Republican who voted against Walker's collective bargaining bill, more influence.
"(Sen. Dale) Schultz or any other Republican could block any future legislation, assuming the 16 Democrats vote together in opposition. That gives more power to moderate Republicans like Schultz while also forcing GOP leaders to fashion legislation that can win the votes of at least some Democrats.
"The narrower majority would make it tougher to win approval of controversial legislation, such as stricter abortion restrictions or tougher penalties for illegal immigrants.
"Nonetheless, Republicans this year have already achieved many of the top goals that they have pursued for years. In addition to the collective bargaining changes, they approved significant cuts in state aid to schools and local governments; some tax cuts; the carrying of concealed weapons; requiring photo ID at the polls starting next year; and eliminating all taxpayer funding for political campaigns."
Could there be more recalls in the future? Nate Silver of the New York Times argues that at least from last week's results, a recall of Walker himself might be too close to call.
And in Ohio, a fight is looming over Senate Bill 5, which enacted similar anti-collective bargaining provisions supported by Republican Gov. John Kasich. That bill will face a referendum before voters on Nov. 8. Look for that vote to attract attention in an off-year election cycle.
REVERSAL OF FORTUNES IN NEW JERSEY
There are more negative poll numbers coming out of a blue state for President Obama.
In fact, the latest Quinnipiac University poll of New Jersey voters shows Republican Gov. Chris Christie halting his decline in popularity, just as President Obama has accelerated his negative ratings in the Garden State.
The poll out Wednesday morning shows Gov. Christie with a near equal split. Forty-seven percent of those surveyed approve of the job Christie is doing, while 46 percent disapprove. That's a slight improvement from the upside-down 44 percent approval/47 percent disapproval in Quinnipiac's June 21 poll.
Just as Christie, who still suffers from a significant gender gap (far more men are likely to approve of his job performance, while women are far more likely to disapprove), seems to have put a stop to his sliding numbers, New Jerseyans are expressing greater dissatisfaction with President Obama.
In a state he won by 15 points in 2008, President Obama now finds himself with a 44 percent job approval rating from New Jerseyans. A majority, 52 percent, disapprove of his job performance.
That's a significant slide from the June 21 survey, which showed 50 percent approval and 46 percent disapproval.
If President Obama has to spend considerable time, energy and money shoring up his support in states that have proven reliably Democratic in recent presidential elections, it makes you wonder if his campaign's talk about looking to expand the electoral map in places like Arizona, Georgia and Texas is more about rhetoric than reality.
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