President Obama’s crack team of speechwriters and politlcal advisers are likely putting the finishing touches on his State of the Union speech.
It doesn’t exactly take a return of Carnac the Magnificent, that “great seer, soothsayer, sage and former financial adviser of the Greek government” (in hindsight that isn’t exactly the greatest credential for someone who could supposedly see the future), to know what the President is going to say.
He’s going to blame Congress.
Hints for this tack have already been sprinkled over the last several months. President Obama came up with the American Jobs Act and demanded that Congress pass it “right away”, despite the fact that even Senate Democrats were largely opposed to the plan’s heavy reliance on taxes. But Obama didn’t care, this was about being able to portray the entire Congress as a bunch of do-nothings.
He’s also issued executive orders to increase the approval of non-immigrant visas, modify some college loan repayment schedules, called on the Commerce Department to improve tourism, and most infamously, made several appointments to government agencies while the Senate was in recess. It’s all prt of a carefully designed plan to make him look like the sole ear of the people in an otherwise deaf and dumb Washington.
And if those hints weren’t enough, President Obama pretty much foreshadowed his messaging strategy at a DNC event a few months ago. “This Congress, they are accustomed to doing nothing,” Obama said, “and they’re comfortable with doing nothing, and they keep on doing nothing. But I will tell you, we intend to keep the pressure on.”
The problem (beyond some serious Constitutional questions about executive power) is that Obama’s like of attack is only half true.
Congress isn’t the problem. The Senate is the problem.
In fact, the House has held 949 roll-call votes. The Senate on the other hand has a mere 235, many of those on procedural motions. But more telling is the bills that have sailed through the House only to die in the Senate. As of today the House has passed nearly 30 bipartisan jobs bills, from ones that would cut burdensome regulations to ones that would lower corporate taxes, that await Senate action. But with Harry Reid guiding the show there is little chance that any of them will see the light of day.
So as you’re listening to President Obama bash Congress in his State of the Union remember who the real problem is. The House has done its work, passing dozens of varying ideas to jumpstart the economy, many of which take cues from legislation that Obama has previously supported. It’s the Senate that is the true problem.
But Obama won’t say that. Why? Because this is an election year and the economy stinks so the President is trying feverishly to find a path to victory. It appears he’s settled on that old trope, the “do-nothing Congress,” made famous by Harry Truman. It’s just not true in this case. Then again, truth, like job creation, is something that President Obama is willing to sacrifice to stay in the White House.