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Timing of a Jobs Speech Slated to Go Nowhere Means Little

I have really nothing to say about the timing of the President’s jobs speech, yesterday’s big silly debate. These distractions from the real business of government are like shiny objects so corporate-owned cable news networks can fill their schedules with shouting rather than anything legitimate. Like corporate control of government, for example.

If there’s anything to be learned from the episode, it’s that the speech doesn’t matter at all. But this was already known about the speech. Its content will be opposed by Republicans; its timing has been opposed, fercryinoutloud. Republicans don’t agree with using public money to increase aggregate demand, they don’t agree with leveraging public money for private investment and they don’t agree on a political level with increasing aggregate demand and creating jobs, if that means that the President has a better economic landscape prior to the 2012 elections. Even if the spending was matched with budget-balancing measures, which invariably would include tax increases, Republicans would surely oppose. They basically think the problem can be solved by slashing taxes on the rich and removing all regulatory burdens.

Republicans have already started the rebuttal to the speech, a week before it has been introduced. And the President has already started the rebuttal to the rebuttal:

Under pressure to move the needle on the nation’s stubborn unemployment rate, President Barack Obama is expected to call next week for a package of job-creating proposals that include extending a payroll tax break for the middle class and rebuilding the nation’s aging bridges, roads, schools and airports […]

Already, Obama has signaled that he’d use Republican opposition as a 2012 re-election campaign theme if the GOP rejects what his administration said would be projects determined by independent analysts to be “pro-growth and pro-job creation.”

The president said Tuesday in a radio interview that “if Congress does not act, then I’m going to be going on the road and talking to folks, and this next election very well may end up being a referendum on whose vision of America is better.”

So the jobs speech will kick off a 14-month election campaign, not an actual program for job creation. Everyone is aware of this. There’s value to that on the margins on a political level, but on jobs for people is means little. So why I should care about whether a speech kicking off this election campaign takes place on a Wednesday or a Thursday is beyond me.

The only thing that will be significant about the speech will not be the jobs ideas, but the deficit ideas. Because there’s already a process in place, with the Catfood Commission II, to reduce the deficit. And the President-backed ideas will serve as a major entry among the plans at the disposal of that commission. That’s why this jobs speech is really a deficit speech.

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David Dayen

David Dayen