Obama’s Missed Opportunity On Owning The Jobs Debate

By now you have probably heard that the White House gave into John Boehner’s demands to move the date of Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress on jobs. Instead of the speech being next Wednesday, we will not have to wait until Thursday so that nothing interferes with the Republican debate next week.

This is another sign of the Obama administration being weak on politics and commanding the lead in any debate and there are a few reasons for this.

Let met start with the obvious I addressed a couple of weeks ago. While President Obama was enjoying his vacation, the White House announced that this jobs plan was coming. We are going into month 28 of having unemployment above 9% and the President is just now deciding to really do something about it. That alone is a very bad indication of being out of touch, but Obama could have made it look like a big “ah-ha” moment and exercised a Constitutional power to show how serious he is about the issue. While Congress was in the middle of their 5-week taxpayer paid vacation, Obama should have exercised his power under Article 2, Section 3 and called the Congress back into session to address the weakening jobs market. Call of his vacation, make a primetime speech about the need for expedient action on jobs and order the Congress back in session. That would have shown absolute resolve on his part to get America working again, but instead he punted and decided that America could wait another three weeks to get income and pay their bills or feed their families. That was very troubling as it was and something even the right jumped on.

So Obama was off to a bad start with that lack of leadership and displaying the seriousness in which he takes this issue. Did he learn from it? Absolutely not.

We now get into the issue of scheduling the address for next week. We already know the GOP doesn’t care about getting America back to work until at least 2013. Even Mitch McConnell has admitted that keeping the economy stagnant and unemployment high can prove to be a winning formula for the GOP in next year’s election. To anyone with a sense of decency and any sort of compassion, it should really make your stomach turn to hear a leader in our Congress make such a callous remark in regards to the livelihood of millions of Americans, but it is to be expected in our toxic political environment we live through today.

John Boehner’s reaction to the President’s date for addressing the Congress was unprecedented. Never before has a Speaker of the House denied the President a date to address Congress – NEVER. Of course Boehner does run the House so he does have say over when the President will address them, but the fact that Boehner didn’t want the address next Wednesday because of a GOP debate shows once again that the Grand Ole’ Party cares only about the party and not about the people they are supposed to represent. President Obama could have really seized upon this issue to.

If I were advising President Obama, I would have quickly changed my plans but not the date. Instead of addressing Congress, the President should have said “fine, I won’t address Congress but instead address the nation”. Tell the networks he is having a primetime speech next Wednesday and even work into that speech the callousness of the GOP leaders in dealing with jobs. Explain to the American people how the House is off next Wednesday after returning to work for one day following a five week paid vacation and only two weeks from another paid vacation.

And let’s talk about all the paid time off the House actually takes while Americans are suffering. Here is a list of times the House is off, starting with the beginning of August and going through the end of November:

  • 8/8-9/5
  • 9/26-10/2
  • 10/17-10/23
  • 11/7-11/13
  • 11/21-11/27

Now let me put that into perspective. Between 8/1/2011 and 11/30/2011 there are 87 work days. John Boehner has scheduled 40 paid days off for the House in that same period of time. That’s almost 50% time off! We hear John Boehner talk about “running government like a business”, but in what business do the employees get close to 50% of their work time as scheduled paid vacation, especially when you have extremely poor performance of that business? There is none!

This statistic would have been a great one the President could have worked into a prime-time speech. Start off by saying he wanted to address the people’s House on one of the greatest crises facing this nation and John Boehner could not be bothered to bring his chamber in to do the work we pay them for. That would have been political gold, but as we have come to expect from this President that means nothing. Instead we are seeing another example of a weak President who worries more about playing nice than he does making progress. To show this, check out how Politico is describing the latest capitulation of the Obama White House to the demands of the GOP:

On the other hand, the White House, at least in the short-term, handed Boehner an opportunity to look strong to his party. And voters may not care for seeing the issue of jobs - the most important domestic priority and the one the president's fate hinges on - as part of a political play.

Fox even takes it a step further with this headline:

Owner's Manual Explaining Why Boehner Prevailed Over President on Date of Speech

And they are both right. The President totally lost something he should be in 100% control of. That is also shown in an email that Obama put out last night:

That's why I'm putting forward a set of bipartisan proposals to help grow the economy and create jobs -- that means strengthening our small businesses, giving needed breaks to middle-class families, while taking responsible steps to bring down our deficit.


I'm asking lawmakers to look past short-term politics and take action on that plan. But we've got to do this together.

Mr. President – the right has already said that politics will prevail over action on the economy and jobs. Are you not paying attention? After almost three years in office, do you really think this whole “bipartisan” thing is going to fly? If so then you are more out of touch with reality than anyone could imagine!

It’s time to take the kid’s gloves off and really fight for American workers. If the GOP wants to play partisan games there is nothing the President can do to stop them, but he sure as hell can go out there and make sure the people know exactly what is happening. Let the right start taking major hits in the polls and they will finally come around. Sadly though the President doesn’t see it like this and the American people will continue to suffer. That is already evident in that email when the President talks about bringing down deficits at the same time, something that never happened during these kind of turbulent economic times. That was something even Ronald Reagan realized and ignored deficits to get Americans working again.

I can’t believe I’m actually sitting here wishing we had Reagan back in the White House again, but it’s true. At least he was able to put aside ideals and dreams and focus on the problems at hand with realistic actions. President Obama has been unable to do that and I doubt he ever will.