Can Obama jobs plan pass?

US President Barack Obama speaks to a crowd in Ohio to sell the American Jobs Act to voters Recent polls show President Obama's approval rating is low and could jeopardise his re-election prospects

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In his speech to Congress the other day, President Obama sounded like an old-time preacher with his thumping refrain "pass this bill". Today, in Ohio, his call got a response.

"Pass this bill," chanted the crowd right on cue.

The president had waved a copy of his hefty American Jobs Act and told them the USA had to catch up with the likes of China and North Korea in spending on high-speed rail and education.

There's little wonder he is warning America could be left behind. There were more bad statistics out today.

There are 43.6 million people living in poverty in the USA now. Not just the highest number but the highest proportion - 15.1% - for 17 years. Mr Obama needs to inspire.

"Lift your voice," he told the Ohio crowd. "Call and email and tweet your congressman. The time for games and gridlock is over."

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Mr Obama is portraying a series of pretty partisan, controversial proposals as plain common sense that no-one of goodwill could resist”

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He built to a crescendo: "If you want construction workers back in work what do you do? 'Pass this bill!' If you want teachers back at work, what do you do? 'Pass this bill!'"

One first-time voter in the crowd should be pleased by the power of the speech.

The president was talking at Fort Hayes art and design college and one pupil, 18-year-old Mel Dodge, told reporters he was an aspiring lyricist and admires Mr Obama's skills.

"He chooses his words so beautifully," said the teenager. "That's why I came out here today, just to hear that in person."

He wasn't so certain about the politics, unsure that the president's jobs plan would work. He wanted to look at the Republican field as well before he decides how to cast his first vote.

If Mr Dodge is not convinced, it won't be through lack of White House effort. Senior advisor David Plouffe is just the latest to offer to answer questions by tweet.

I've just got a detailed White House email on the beneficial impact of the act on Montana. Why Montana, I know not, but I am sure 49 similar missives will soon be in my inbox.

The president will, I guess, be on the road until this is done or dead.

The objective is not just to persuade Americans of the merit of his plan. It is to paint his opponents as wreckers.

He is portraying what is a series of pretty partisan, controversial proposals as plain common sense, that no-one of goodwill could resist.

In fact, there is intense debate about his ideas.

He got backing on Tuesday for more spending from the Congressional Budget Office's director, who warned cuts could damage recovery.

But the president's plan is ideologically objectionable to most Republicans, even more so now that he has revealed how it would be paid for: by taxing what they would describe as "wealth creators" and what Obama would call the rich, oil companies and corporate-jet owners.

This is bound to get messy. The White House has confirmed that they will accept parts of the bill being passed.

The danger for Obama is a loss of his simple message.

He could get drawn into the wrangling and the less attractive aspects of compromise. He needs all the clarity his lyricism and beautiful words can conjure.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    MM "Can Obama jobs plan pass?"

    Only if the GOP base get their dearest wish and are raptured away, or, somewhat less probable, undergo a conversion to rationality, compassion and cooperativeness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    14th September 2011 - 12:50

    "Is this impression correct?"

    (see next answer)

    "And if so how are you ever going to resolve it in a way that can lead to your economic recovery?"

    Civil war.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.


    Denver,point taken.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    Billythefirst: I comment for the benefit of the people who read the comments. A well-thought-out and well-presented argument is, IMO, the only way to counter this negative paradigm-shift that is happening - no, being foisted upon - the citizens of my country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    165 Denver
    Wouldn't waste long words, however appropriate, on those that lack the capacity to appreciate the point you're conveying.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    Love Canal, take personal responsibility for your side's sins Andrea and Oldloadr.

    I am very much in favor of personal responsibility, I supported workfare not welfare, and still do. Poor & uneducated people often don't know how to make correct choices, but that doesn't justify exploiting and poisoning them [here OR in China]. I guess if you had black lung it's your fault for mining.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    AndreaNY and Oldloadr: We were discussing a 9 year old girl. I guess by your logic she should take responsibility for her own poverty and go out and get a job? You're darn right you're being sanctimonious.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.


    AfA @163

    Agreed 'we have a problem'

    (havoc for some, for more and more)

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    Benjamin Seun Hudeyin @162
    Deeply telling…

    Oldloadr @159,160
    None so blind…
    No sense @140,141,151,152?
    Agreed 'we havoc problem'!
    But, what for future context?
    Graduated 'Work+Reward' from 6
    100% in education+training+work
    No more 100% 'pure' dead-ends
    NO teaching of EXCLUSION!

    AndreaNY @158
    What's your problem…
    'Give & Take' please
    Especially for young
    100% INCLUSION!
    Beyond Rep v Dem

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    I thought it was only in West Africa we played party politics. It is funny to see the squabbles between the Democrats and Republicans. When will humans learn to put the interest of the masses before egoistic ideologies. Uncle Sam, please, act right. We look up to you over here. Whatever you do is precedence!

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    I saw a man cover hole in Los Angeles today that read "Made in Mexico".
    I felt sick to my stomach. As if Americans can't even manufacture their own damn man hole covers. "Beam me up , Scotty!"

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    158.AndreaNY - What's your problem with personal responsibility? It seems that some here think that there is an exemption from personal responsibility until your annual income is $1 more than they make... ;)

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    146.McJakome - Since I grew up in a "diverse" family with both working class and poor; I know that all of the poor had the same oppurtunities as the members who worked, but didn't take advantage of them. In SC, unempolyment is listed at 12%, yet there are help wanted ads in every paper and on every job search site (4,600 on Craig's List, alone). Explain that!

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    57. McJakome

    So how do you and Oldloadr feel about companies poisoning people for profit?

    It's wrong, and they should be prevented from doing so. If they are responsible, certainly people are also responsible for their own actions?

    What's your problem with personal responsibility?

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    re 141.Oldloadr,

    "Asking people to take personal responsibility is now considered 'sanctimonious'"?

    So how do you and Oldloadr feel about companies poisoning people for profit? I'm all in favor of responsibility, including confiscatory fines for companies that deserve them. They haven't changed their ways since the Muckrakers exposed them a century ago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    Responsibility = Sanctimony

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.


    Asking people to take personal responsibility is now considered "sanctimonious"? This is a subtle effect of a president like Obama who has led everyone to believe that the government will take care of everything. It cannot, and when it doesn't, the answer is always for it to do even more and more.

    Dependence is so much easier with democrats. Perhaps that's why reps "scare" them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    suninmyeyes @149
    Efficiency for all…

    Shall we face 'plausible facts', all systems?

    US best, best in world - perhaps

    Euro average best in world - perhaps

    UK National Health Service - 'there for all', but…

    Leadership, political & professional, handicaps

    Private practice, a diverting safety valve

    Not allowed accommodate paying customers

    VOCATION & DEDICATION will win through

    WHEN allowed

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    Some are criticizing Pres. Obama for fake proposals, false information, grandstanding and, worst of all, politicing.

    Now just what does FOX do all the time? What have the GOP and TEA people been engaging in? I'll tell you, all of the above and ceaselessly to boot since Obama's election. In addition to which, their criticisms are all, GASP! selfishly & politically motivated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    MagicKirin @145

    "Maximum efficiency of assortment" will obtain when ALL:

    FREE to choose / compete-for / try / stick-with jobs that satisfy abilities

    FREE to change jobs for a better match - on initiative / advice / firing

    FREE, in authority, to encourage / advise leave / fire

    Only the best retained…

    Freedoms possible when NO THREATS to living & family

    Only with Secure Equality


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