A first look at the Obama jobs plan

Will an estimated $300 billion in spending fix the economy?

Charles Dharapak/AP
Presiden Obama speaks as he honors Jimmie Johnson for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship in the East Room the White House in Washington. The president will unveil his jobs plan in an address to a joint session of Congress this evening.

From this AMs WaPo, a jobs plan that could clock in at north of $300 billion:

“The president’s plan, in large part, will call for continuing current measures to stimulate the economy, including a 2 percentage-point payroll-tax cut and extended unemployment benefits, administration officials say. Obama is also likely to call for an additional tax cut for companies that hire workers. Those measures together could cost about $200 billion next year.

Obama is planning to propose $100 billion or more in spending on infrastructure, state and local aid, and programs that target people who have been unemployed for more than six months, according to officials and other people familiar with the deliberations.

I’ve heard that a FAST!-like idea will be in there too, a great way to quickly get some folks facing high levels of joblessness back to work repairing public schools.

All told, it looks to me like the plan accomplishes three critical goals:

–it’s large enough to significantly move the needle on unemployment;

–it’s carefully crafted to have bipartisan appeal, at least in normal times;

–it solidly pivots the President from targeting the budget deficit to targeting the much more immediate problem: the jobs deficit.

And yes, congressional Republicans are already making negative noises, which is where point #2 comes in. The President needs to be able to credibly argue that those blocking his plan are doing so not for substantive, economic reasons, but for political gain.* And they are doing so at a time when the American people need substance, not strategy.

*NPR had a great story this morning featuring Republican Senator Lamar Alexander saying he was against the payroll tax cut. They then re-played an interview with him from about nine months ago where he argued that it was a great idea that would put money in people’s paychecks and thus stimulate growth and jobs.

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