- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 2, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

“I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away. It’s called the American Jobs Act. There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation. Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans — including many who sit here tonight. And everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything. (Applause.)”

That’s what President Obama told lawmakers Sept. 8 in a hastily called joint session of Congress. But it was — and is — a flat-out lie, and Mr. Obama knows it.

He has since then traveled the country to pitch the plan, exclusively to partisan Democratic crowds that whoop and cheer at the brilliance of it all. He even got wealthy donors to chant “pass this bill!” even though it substantially raises taxes.

Now, however, we are beginning to see the truth behind the fiction. Not only is the president’s job bill not “the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans,” it’s not even the kind of proposal that Democrats can currently support.

On Monday, senators passed a bill to keep the government open into the next fiscal year and then headed out on vacation for the rest of the week. Majority Leader Harry Reid said when they return they’ll get back to work — not on the jobs bill, but on a measure to punish China over its currency valuation. Mr. Reid said that bill is a bigger priority right now.

There’s a story making the rounds in Washington that explains Mr. Reid’s dyspeptic countenance. On a secret meeting at the White House after the debt-ceiling deal collapsed (mainly because Mr. Obama doubled the amount of taxes he wanted), the president sat with the top Republican and Democrat from both the House and Senate. They offered a deal, one that all four agreed on and that all four vowed could get through the two chambers.

Mr. Obama nixed it. In one version of the story, a peeved Mr. Reid said, “I’m not going to do anything for that [expletive] again.”

By the end of the week, Democrats were in open revolt. Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, asked whether his party had the votes to pass the president’s bill, said flatly: “Not at the moment, I don’t think we do, but, uh, we can work on it.” He added: “We’re not going to have 100 percent of Democratic senators [support the bill], that’s why it needs to be bipartisan.”

The reason is simple: Democrats in the House and Senate stand for re-election in just 13 months, and their campaigns will be difficult enough without raising taxes just before voters go to the polls. Said a blunt Mr. Durbin: “There are some senators who are up for election who say ‘I’m never gonna vote for a tax increase while I’m up for election, even on the wealthiest people.’”

Makes sense. It’s a hard sell for lawmakers if they pass the bill, which would raise taxes by $467 billion on wealthier Americans and corporations.

And Mr. Obama knew that when he delivered his big speech last month. His strategy is clear (if simple-minded): blame Congress for the mess America’s in. But in so doing, he has caught up his fellow Democrats who, pressed to the wall, are fully prepared to bail on him and save their own skins. They want no part of the amateurish strategy to try to blame Congress, half-controlled by Democrats.

In fact, even some of the most rabidly liberal Democrats are planning to abandon the president because they see he’s only interested in saving his job, not theirs. More, Mr. Obama is throwing his former Senate colleagues under the bus as he scrambles to win another term.

So, this jobs bill is dead. And no matter how many times Mr. Obama repeats the lie that his “is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans,” it will be House Republicans who write a bill that can actually pass the Senate.

Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at jcurl@washingtontimes.com.