Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Morning Jay: Obama’s Problem With His Base


President Obama’s gaffe in Friday’s press conference caught the attention of the media, the blogosphere, and the public in general. I thought it was a telling example of how bad this president is at communicating when he is off script, but there is a bigger story to tell.
The president was out there, once again, promoting the American Jobs Act. This bill is basically a huge payoff to Democratic constituent groups – notably organized labor, which would benefit enormously from federal grants to  states to keep government workers on the payroll, as well as construction projects to be completed by union job crews.

This bill has no chance of passing through the United States Congress. The Republican party is never going to vote to hike taxes to pay off Democratic client groups. It never has, and it never will. What’s more, the politics of this bill do not play very well with the middle of the country – as Republicans can always point out (correctly), the American Jobs Act is a watered-down version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (i.e., the stimulus that the country thinks was a failure).
So why, then, is the president still insisting on this package?
He has trouble with his base.
Just as with the flip-flop on gay marriage, Obama’s press conference on Friday was supposed to be a symbolic gesture to remind the core constituencies of the Democratic party that he is their friend. (This is also why he’ll never flip-flop on the Keystone Pipeline.)

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