Obama drops other shoe

Linking tax hikes to jobs bill puts GOP on the spot

President Obama’s announcement this week that he intends to pay for his $447 billion American Jobs Act mostly by increasing taxes on the wealthy sends a powerful signal to congressional Republicans.

Obama no doubt figures they won’t go for tax increases on their wealthy friends and benefactors, even when polls show—as they do now—that a significant majority of Americans approves of them. By including tax hikes with the bill, he shows that he also knows GOP lawmakers probably aren’t going to support his bill, even though its provisions all have enjoyed Republican backing in the past. Oh yeah, they’ll complain about how it hurts the “job creators,” but voters are wising up to the fact that these so-called “job creators” aren’t creating any jobs.

For Obama, it’s as if he’s finally awakened to the reality that was so evident during the debt-ceiling crisis: Congressional Republicans will do whatever they can to deny him any success whatsoever in dealing with our economic problems, even if doing so might cause the country great harm. They simply don’t want the economy to improve. A bad economy, they believe, will hurt Obama’s re-election chances, and they’re willing to let millions of unemployed Americans continue to suffer so their candidate can win in November 2012.

Negotiation and compromise have always been at the heart of American politics, and Obama is someone who respects that tradition and has sought to work with congressional Republicans in a bipartisan manner. That respect has not been reciprocated, however. His jobs bill is a recognition of that fact.

The president has laid down the gauntlet. He’s given Congress a good bill, and he’s shown how it can be financed. A majority of the American people support his efforts. If congressional Republicans are sincere about wanting America to get back to work, they’ll vote for the jobs bill. If they don’t, voters should remember their intransigence when November 2012 rolls around.