September 1, 2011

Obama Jobs Plan - What If Scenario #1

Waxing poetic on jobs?
Now that President Obama is done playing footsie with Congress and the address to the joint session of Congress is a go on Thursday, not Wednesday, before the NFL season opener not during, we can turn our attention to the super awesome wonderfulness that will be his august address.  After all, an address to a joint session is usually a big deal, so this jobs address must be a doozie of a plan.  It must be spectacular to merit such a rare non-State of the Union joint session.

So what's the plan?  I can think of four different scenarios that could materialize and each has a different set of implications for the country and for how the GOP should react.

Scenario 1: What if he renounces his previous Keynesian ideals and goes all conservative?

Sounds crazy, right?  But not so fast.  President Obama may not have truly seen the light on pro-business, pro-growth policies, but that doesn't mean he hasn't realized a few things during his tenure.  His popularity has slid.  His re-election chances are in trouble.  He's not oblivious to that fact, even though he has been tone deaf on jobs.  He may have learned a little something about pragmatism.  And if he really is still as much a progressive tax and spend liberal as he always was, he may actually understand two-steps-forward-one-step-back.

By going big on being pro-business he will fly in the face of his base but he'll gain a lot of mileage in the center and carry a bunch of weight with independents.  The calculus could be something like this:

  • My base will vote for me anyway.
  • I'll regain a bunch of ground in the center
  • I could pull out this re-election next year with this move
  • And if I have to go one year with some steps backwards from progressivism then at least it will only be for one year.
  • It will buy me four more years in the White House
  • And a big opportunity to accomplish a lot more before 2016
  • The faux track rightwards will be worth it in the end

That's a little scary.  Of course there are some flaws with it like a GOP Senate and Congress after next year.  That scenario is very possible too.  But there's the opportunity for more SCOTUS appointments.  There's more opportunity for the imperial presidency and agencies and departments like the EPA to 'do their own thing' and disregard the separation of powers to a certain extent.  Then again maybe he thinks by moving to the center the GOP would still balk and he could come off as the spurned hero in all this.

How should the GOP react?  They can either hop on board and help both themselves and Obama, or they can balk at his ideas, find fault with them. It doesn't mean that the GOP come out looking bad by accepting a deal.  The look like 'adults in the room' too.   In the other case there's a risk that they come across as uncooperative.  There's also a chance it doesn't matter if they do look uncooperative.  People are angry for a reason.

Another possibility is that the president's pro-business plans will be quite flawed because he starts from an anti-business place, and it won't be taken seriously.  There are pros and cons to both getting on board and resisting. I don't have an answer because I haven't yet thought this scenario through. Hopefully the GOP have given it some thought already.

What does the country get out of it?  That's a tough question too because if my sense of the Obama motivation as it being about the long game for progressivism it hurts the country to fall for this.  On the other hand, accepting a pro-growth, pro-jobs plan helps.  And it doesn't necessarily mean that Obama wins again.  

In all honesty, I don't consider this the most likely scenario to materialize from the Obama plan, but it's always better to be prepared.

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