Without Obama in front of the camera, monopolizing the way his jobs bill is being spun, the devils in the details have been popping up like weeds.
As Obama has crisscrossed the country this week, one of the bigger details that has emerged is that the White House wants to pay for part of the package by limiting income tax deductions on individuals earning over $200,000 a year, and families bringing in over $250,000 a year. I wonder why he left that little, four hundred billion dollars over ten years, detail out of his speech?
The president is clearly playing a very political game in his insistence that Congress pass the bill now, with a short amount of time for debate and analysis. House Majority Leader John Boehner is absolutely right in saying that the bill should be scored by the Congressional Budget Office before Congress gets to work on it.
Having the CBO projections in hand should be a prerequisite for any major piece of legislation, and Boehner is absolutely right in saying that the "record of the economic proposals enacted during the last Congress necessitates careful examination of the president’s latest plan.”
While I like much of the broad strokes of the package as outlined in Obama's speech, in that it includes long term budget trimming in exchange for some short term - fairly targeted - stimulus, some of the ideas he came up with aren't really particularly stimulative.
For example, giving an extra benefit to employers who hire workers who have been out of work for six months or more is astonishingly discriminatory, and practically cries out for abuse.
What's to stop an employer in a low skill field from laying off a few workers, and picking up a bunch of workers who've been unemployed for 6 or more months, just to pad their bottom line?
Ideas like that, and cutting the employer's side of payroll taxes, go after the entirely wrong problem. The problem is demand - businesses can meet their demand with the workforce they have.
They're not going to hire millions of people just because they have some money sitting in their bank accounts. If this was the case, with record amounts of capital sitting on balance sheets, they would have already started doing so.
Businesses don't need more capital, in fact capital is very cheap right now. The problem is not that labor isn't cheap. The problem is that businesses don't need any more workers to keep up.
During the president's speech, he said there shouldn't be games, politics or delays. But what he is doing by trying to ram this through is precisely a political game.
His speech left out major, controversial, points in the legislation, and if he tries to ram this through, especially if the CBO scores come back very different than the rosy picture the White House paints, this opportunity he has to rise above the fray could really backfire on him.
Solomon Kleinsmith is a former nonprofit worker, serial social entrepreneur and strident centrist independent blogger from Omaha, Nebraska. His website, Rise of the Center, is the fastest growing blog targeting centrist independents and moderates.