Want to know the tip-off that Barack Obama thinks of his jobs bill as a campaign strategy rather than a legislative vehicle? He hasn’t tried to gain any leverage over Republicans in Congress – in particular, he has not insisted on tying it to the upcoming full year government spending bills that Congress is scheduled to pass in mid-November.
Obama just gave a press conference, in which he argued again for the jobs bill. And it’s a good argument – and as Greg Sargent has noted, it seems to be one that to a large extent resonates with voters. But Obama knows, and everyone else knows, that Republicans are not going to be persuaded – either by his own speechifying, or by the polls. What might persuade them, however, is a more serious threat: if Obama threatened to veto the continuing resolution in November unless it included his jobs ideas. It would be an incredibly risky move. After all, there’s a good chance we’re going to get a shutdown anyway and adding anything else to the challenge of getting appropriations passed would make that more likely, and it would also shift the blame for a shutdown from Congress to the White House. And if Obama isn’t willing to go through with it (and the economic hit it would cause), then he shouldn’t threaten it. Remember: there are a few dozen conservatives in the House who would love to have an excuse to shut down the government for a while, and if they can easily blame it on Obama they certainly will.
So Obama is making the safe choice, and probably the best choice, in accepting that the jobs bill won’t pass, and instead taking it to the voters. Perhaps he can even wind up getting a few provisions through the House after all. But what you’re seeing isn’t a legislative strategy to try to pass the bill; it’s an election strategy intended to give Obama the rhetoric to blame Congressional Republican obstruction for the state of the economy.