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Thursday, September 01, 2011

A Washington Scheduling Conflict is Not the Most Important Story Ever

Day-plannerOne of the things I like to do with what I think of as my "long form" posts is kill two or more birds with one stone. It's often the case that when you look closely at an issue or story of the day, it relates to other stories and other issues. So many things are interconnected and politics (as much as politicians like to pretend otherwise) is a complex and faceted thing. It's nearly always the case that you can grab a story and make it at least two stories; "Man, this is dumb -- and the media sucks!" And yes, media suckage figures into this particular post.

So let's begin with that. Yesterday, President Obama announced that he wanted to address a joint session of congress on September 7. This wasn't going to work, there was a big Republican debate that night and we can't have the president dominating that news cycle. Of course, House Speaker John Boehner didn't put his refusal that way, but no one on Earth believes there was any other reason. The President pushed his case, but later dropped it. He'd address congress on the 8th.

OK, now here's where we get to the "and the media sucks!" part; this is the big story today. A scheduling disagreement. Yes, the GOP looks petty and self-serving. "Remember, this is just about picking the date for the speech. It's like arguing about the shape of the table before sitting down for negotiations. What possible chance is there for Washington to approve meaningful economic legislation if there’s a dramatic showdown over scheduling?" writes Steve Benen. "That's a rhetorical question; the chances are zero." But the bigger story -- that President Obama is going to unveil a major jobs plan -- is lost in the coverage of this minor palace intrigue.

Worse, it turns out we have a good idea what's in the plan the President will outline and media's ignoring this knowledge.

↓ CONTINUED AFTER THE JUMP ↓

The Atlantic:

President Obama is either fed up with Congress or he's testing his own administration's mettle. Or both.

On Wednesday, Obama took a now-familiar path in adopting a program -- this time a jobs and infrastructure effort -- that can happen entirely within his domain. Obama directed several federal agencies to identify "high-impact, job-creating infrastructure projects" that can be expedited now, without congressional approval.

One week before he will make a major address to Congress on jobs, Obama is making sure they know he plans to move forward without them. The president has also directed the Education Department to come up with a "Plan B" updating the 2001 No Child Left Behind law in the absence of congressional action. The message to Congress is clear: Do your work or we'll do it for you.


That's right, we know the president plans to stand before congress and give them the middle finger with both hands, but the big story is that this middle-finger-giving had to be rescheduled. Barack Obama is finally telling congress, "lead, follow, or get out of the way," but the earth-shatteringly important story -- as far as the media is concerned -- involves day-planners.

No doubt, the president will call on congress to do more, but it's clear that things will move forward with or without them. Which, of course, almost certainly means without them. We'll hear a lot from the GOP about how Obama is going off on another round of reckless new spending, but -- from everything I'm seeing -- this would merely be an expedited distribution of existing funds (i.e., it's not new spending, it's a rejiggering of agencies' budgets). Republican complaints will be what they always are; reactionary BS. So expect the media to climb on board with that.

Meanwhile, Republicans' big plan to create jobs involves tax cuts -- which have been failing for a decade -- and repealing regulations. Most of these regulations were in place during the Clinton administration, which means they were operational during the longest economic expansion of the 20th century. Clearly, these regulations aren't extremely burdensome and they're not the reason people are out of work. This isn't about creating jobs, this is about an opportunistic attack on things Republicans don't like while pretending to do something about jobs. And, if the legislation passes and then fails to dent unemployment -- and fail it unquestionably would -- then that'll be Obama's fault, because everything is Obama's fault.

Man, this is dumb -- and the media sucks.

-Wisco


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