Amid what appears to be increased support by a portion of the electorate for substantive economic and fiscal policy change, President Barack Obama begins a three-day, two-state bus tour for what the administration hopes will be a momentum builder to pass a revised jobs bill.
House Republicans, who control the lower chamber, have to-date opposed any jobs bill that includes additional fiscal stimulus -- despite the fact that demand conditions in the U.S. economy are weak. Most economists agree that absent an increase in business investment or a large jump in consumer spending, more fiscal stimulus is needed to get the economy moving again and create more jobs. Supply side economists disagree, arguing the best way to create jobs is to reduce the size of government and free-up more capital for private sector investment.
House Republicans, and Senate Republicans, who are in the minority in the upper chamber, have also been unbowed: they believe federal spending should be cut even more -- despite the fact that the economy that would slow even more, at least short-term.
So Far, No Sign of GOP Opposing Conservative Base
Republicans have also shown a willingness to support policies favored by the party's conservative political base - even if it hurts the U.S. economy - calculating that most House members will be immune to any political fallout, due to the fact that they run in uncompetitive districts.
However, the Occupy Wall Street protest movement, now in its fifth week, has unexpectedly jarred Washington's assumptions about the political culture. House members elected in 2010 by the Tea Party faction -- many of whom won in two-party competitive districts -- may now be looking over their shoulder at a possible strong Democratic candidate who is boosted by the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Congressional Democrats and Obama hope that new political current will convince House and Senate Republicans to find common ground and pass portions of the jobs bill.
Although Congress is adopting a piece-by-piece approach, the president believes that every single piece should pass, and that at the end of the day we should have all of the components of the American Jobs Act passed through the Congress so the president can sign them, even if that means that he has to sign multiple pieces of legislation, White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said, The Boston Globe reported Monday.
Obama's three-day bus tour will take him through North Carolina and Virginia -- two southern states that could be critical to his re-election campaign in 2012.
Political/Public Policy Analysis: The latest Quinnpiac Poll shows President Obama with an approval rating of 45 percent. That has to increase, if Obama hopes to convince House/Senate Republicans that it's in their interest to pass at least a partial jobs bill.
Further, the bus tour will help, but a major unknown concerns the Occupy Wall Street movement. If it can demonstrate that a large majority of Americans supports the coalition's call for fiscal stimulus to create jobs and other reforms, it could lead to results in Washington. However, we're still too early in the movement to form a meaningful conclusion about the coalition's impact on the political culture and public policy.
Joseph Lazzaro, U.S. Editor, served as Managing Editor of New York-based financial news web sites WallStreetEurope.com/WallStreetItalia.com, 1999-2004, and as Economics...