Legislatively at least, the table is set for November; little of political consequence is likely to even make it to the Senate floor for debate, and that’s not all bad for the White House as it uses Congressional Republicans as a foil.
With the economy continuing to grow slowly, the White House has alternated its message between taking credit for what job growth there is and criticizing the GOP for obstructing the bulk of the president’s agenda.
And the administration doesn’t want to get dragged into side arguments on GOP turf, such as gun control, where the words “existing law” were repeated endlessly last week.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest today called on Congressional Republicans to put something on their own “to-do list” before they leave — pointing to the pieces of president’s various jobs bills that have either been blocked by the GOP or never made it to the floor for votes.
“I’ll leave it to them to make up their own to-do list,” Earnest said of Congressional Republicans. He added, “As they consider what to put on that to-do list, I would urge them to also think about the reaction that they’re going to get from their constituents when they go home and spend the month of August in town hall meetings and traveling across their districts.”
Obama has also tweeted numerous times a link to a countdown clock on his campaign website demanding action on his stalled jobs agenda by the end of this week.
The push includes his “to-do list” and several pieces of the American Jobs Act. But hopes for passing any of it before the break have dwindled in recent weeks and now are close to zero.
His proposed small-business tax cut may have been his best chance, but it fell in the Senate to a Republican filibuster on a cloture vote. The GOP blamed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for blocking their amendments. Regardless, it’s not going anywhere.
Nor are the president’s calls for a new stimulus infrastructure package; aid for states to hire teachers, firefighters and police officers; a massive refinancing proposal for millions of homeowners; shifting tax breaks from outsourcing to insourcing; or renewing tax breaks for renewable energy.
Instead, the House and Senate have spent the runup to the August break passing tax cut bills that have each been declared dead on arrival in the other chamber.
Ben LaBolt, spokesman for the Obama campaign, used the inaction on Obama’s plans to go after presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
“Everyday on the trail Mitt Romney calls for job creation, but he opposes the president’s plan to create jobs now and Republicans in Congress have obstructed it. ... Mitt Romney has made clear that he’d be a rubber-stamp for the budget-busting tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires Congressional Republicans have perpetuated — ignoring the fact that we’ve tried them before and they didn’t unleash growth or job creation.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.