The President has earned the reputation of being a bit of a milquetoast when it comes to drafting and passing legislation. He is temperamentally, just not the kind of confrontational politician that’s capable of the brutal strong-arm tactics that are required to pass sticky pieces of legislation. But, in this column by Jonathan Alter, he’s going to have to channel Lyndon Johnson to pass his bill, and he’s going to have to get comfortable playing hardball for the first time during his tenure as President.
In the wake of his $787 billion dollar stimulus plan that stopped the American economy from hundreds of thousands of jobs every month, and similarly kept hundreds of thousands of workers (such as teachers and cops) on government payrolls across the country, members of Congress first voted against the legislative package, and then stood up and took credit for the practical benefits that came to their districts. Alter’s argument is that if the individual members of Congress want to get the trickle down benefits of the new American Jobs Act to impact their districts, they’re going to have to vote for it.
I think this is the best possible way of passing vital legislation that will leave us with an enhanced infrastructure along with a bill that contains not only potential for jobs growth, but, as an added sweetener for Republicans, significant tax cuts. I hope that the days of the President meeting the GOP halfway and then rolling over when he doesn’t cave to their all of their demands are over. And this approach of targeting individual lawmakers to benefit their own districts is the most effective way he has of passing the bill. While you could call it bribery, I prefer to look at it in terms of the art of compromise as envisioned by the Founding Fathers. This is how politics is usually conducted, as per Otto von Bismarck’s old truism about how sausage is made. It’s just how politics goes. If you don’t like it, don’t try and figure out how sausage is made.