Monday, September 12, 2011

Risk-free Republican rebranding

Hey, Republicans, I've got a winning strategy for you. Why not give Obama rope to hang himself?

This evening, the President will send up his jobs bill, with $440 billion in tax cuts and infrastructure spending. Next Monday, he'll send the White House proposal for the debt supercommittee, which will presumably add at least $440 billion to the $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction the committee is charged with putting together. In his speech on Sept. 8, that's how Obama proposed to pay for his jobs plan.

Republicans, why not carve out your favorite $440 billion in spending cuts from Obama's deficit reduction proposal, tack them to his jobs bill and pass the whole shebang -- leaving the remainder of the supercommittee's charge unchanged?

In one fell swoop you can lock in another near-half trillion in spending cuts with no tax increases, wipe out your reputation for intransigence, and get a chance to prove that a) the party is always in favor of tax cuts, b) the party recognizes the country's acute infrastructure needs, and c) Keynesian stimulus doesn't work.  If you really believe the last, what harm can the package do?  At the same time, you'll give yourself added space to stonewall in the supercommittee negotiations -- yielding on a little bit of stimulus spending can offset your implacability on tax hikes.

Even if your post-2008 anti-Keynesian is a tad opportunistic, and not entirely an article of faith, this remains a low-risk proposition.  At worst (for you), the jobs bill will marginally (and probably murkily) boost a still-dismal economy while moving the ball on long-term spending cuts. At best, it will have no effect at all, enabling you to argue that you gave Obama some space to govern, in exchange for beneficial long-term spending reductions, and he proved himself utterly helpless to spur the economy.

So cut the President a break, and break him once and for all. What say you?

Update 3:15 ET: I see that Obama is proposing to pay for the jobs bill with $440 billion in tax hikes, the same kind he's been talking about forever. No matter: the GOP can still cherry-pick the same amount in spending cuts out of the deficit reduction package Obama sends up next week, tie it to the jobs bill, and leave the supercommittee at square 1, their work now prefaced by a total of $1.44 trillion in alleged spending spending cuts. 

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