President Obama "will face a daunting challenge" when he gives his big jobs speech before a joint session of Congress at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, says Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo. He has to sell a plan that can not only put Americans back to work, but has a chance of passing a Republican-led House that opposes "most of the specific spending measures that experts say would create jobs" — all in a political environment where the public has soured on the word "stimulus." What can we expect from the big speech? Here, four predictions:
1. Obama will propose a $300 billion(ish) plan — half of it from tax cuts
According to several media reports, Obama's plan will cost $300 billion, give or take $100 billion. About $170 billion would go toward an extension of two existing policies: A temporary cut in the payroll tax and a renewal of expiring jobless benefits. Another $30 billion will reportedly go toward tax breaks for businesses that hire long-term unemployed workers, and $50 billion or so is earmarked for public works programs. Other elements could include a plan to help "underwater" homeowners refinance, aid to states to prevent layoffs of teachers and first responders, and job training.
2. The Right will not be impressed
If Obama's plan sounds familiar, that's because it's "an awful lot like the stimulus package" from 2009 that failed to meet Obama's own benchmarks for success, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. Conservatives clearly won't buy this. And it's "absolutely idiotic" to assume that the same reheated policies will boost the president's political fortunes.
3. Neither will the Left
Don't expect the Democratic base to be excited, says John Aravosis at AmericaBlog. "Unless we're going to create those jobs with magic pixie dust, it takes money," and Obama has already tied his hands behind his back by promising to cut spending. Obama's speech will be "too little (and awfully late)."
4. But it's independents and moderates who Obama will target
The White House has two goals: To present jobs policies that could plausibly pass the GOP House, and to "win over the independents who will decide the election," says Ezra Klein at The Washington Post. Combine those goals and you get job ideas that are "thoroughly bipartisan and clearly popular, and a package of deficit-reducing offsets that show" a willingness "to make hard choices." Still, says Helene Cooper in The New York Times, "Obama has been pursuing those [independent and moderate] voters for much of the past two years, and they have continued to drift away."