Controversy

Will Obama's cheeky economic to-do list backfire?

The president unveils a five-point checklist of initiatives that he thinks Congress should get around to, but his sarcastic tone could turn lawmakers off

This week, President Obama unveiled a simple economic to-do list for Congress, in a bid to underscore how gridlock in the legislative body is hurting the recovery. "I'm not trying to overload Congress here," Obama, his voice dripping with sarcasm, said at a rally in Albany. He also noted that the plan is "about the size of a Post-it, so every member of Congress should have time to read it." The Obama administration says all five aspects of the plan — new tax credits for small businesses, job aid for veterans, homeowner assistance, clean energy initiatives, and reducing tax incentives for companies that ship jobs overseas — have enjoyed bipartisan support in the past. But will Obama's to-do list just alienate lawmakers?

It could rub salt in the wound: Obama's proposals are directed at a "polarized Congress already on the defensive" over low approval ratings, and this isn't likely to improve relations, says Jackie Calmes at The New York Times. House Republicans are complaining that Obama is not the only one who has proposed economic recovery programs, noting that their "own ideas have languished in the Democratic-controlled Senate." And if Republicans further steel themselves against Obama's proposals, he could risk "seeming impotent in the face of his opposition." "Obama hands Congress economic 'to do' list" 

But Republicans should be worried: The to-do list and similar tactics could put Republicans in a tight spot, says Jessica Yellin at CNN. If they fail to pass Obama's proposals, he can continue to paint "Congress as the roadblock between his agenda and the assistance he says is needed for the American people." Worse still, he'll use that attack into November, lumping "the policies of congressional Republicans and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney together." "Obama gives his wish list as to-do list for Congress"

The list is nothing but political posturing: Obama's list contains "populist notions masquerading as policy," says David Harsanyi at RealClearPolitics. The White House claims the proposals are bipartisan, but one glance at his wasteful clean energy proposal should be enough to put voters on guard. The otherwise admirable proposal to put veterans to work is a transparent political attack: "Hey, Republicans, why do you hate veterans?" It's hard to tell "what's scarier — that the administration would pretend that these are serious proposals or that the president might actually believe they are." "Obama's ridiculous to-do list"

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