The President formally submitted the American Jobs Act to Congress today, and House Speaker John Boehner had an immediate rejoinder: he will submit it to CBO for scoring. “[W]e appreciate the President’s pledge to transmit legislation to Congress and will immediately request that it be scored by the Congressional Budget Office,” Boehner wrote in a statement. “Once we receive CBO’s analysis, we can begin the important work of reviewing the various elements of his proposal.”

Brian Beutler explains why this is important:

At a cost of over $400 billion, the White House says the American Jobs Act is fully paid for. But the way they’ve paid for it, according to Obama, is by asking the new fiscal Super Committee to reduce the deficit by more than the $1.2 trillion the debt limit law requires of them. TPM has an email in to the White House to see whether this is accounted for in the jobs bill itself. If the offsets (tax increases, spending cuts and savings, or both) are contained entirely in separate legislation then the CBO will tell Boehner that the jobs bill blows up the deficit. That would be a big political hurdle for the bill in a deficit-averse Capitol.

It won’t just be a big political hurdle; it would violate Congressional rules. Congress passed statutory paygo back in 2010, and the House version of this is cut-go, which requires that all new spending be offset with equal spending cuts. Therefore, if the White House tries to go this route, by punting the offsets for the American Jobs Act over to the Super Committee, it gives Republicans a way to say that their hands are tied and they cannot pass the plan.

If the offsets are provided inside the American Jobs Act – so far we haven’t seen language – then it’s gut check time for the progressive movement. Because it’s quite likely that those offsets will include things like raising the Medicare eligibility age. The American Hospital Association has backed the idea, mainly because private insurance reimbursement is higher than what Medicare reimburses to providers. In addition, the trigger cuts that would result from no plan from the Super Committee would hit providers hard. So this is a win-win for them, as opposed to the American people. It also would not come close to lowering overall health spending, as this chart from CBPP shows:

But this has not swayed those pushing the eligibility age increase, and the legacy of the safety net and the party which enacted it is on the line.

After helping President Lyndon B. Johnson pass his Great Society programs in the 1960s, Larry O’Brien gave his memoir a humble, and prescient, title: “No Final Victories.”

Mr. O’Brien’s observation has come sharply into focus, in Washington and on the presidential campaign trail. The accelerating debates over taxes, spending and economic policy amount to the most fundamental challenge yet to the achievements of Johnson and President Franklin D. Roosevelt a generation earlier […]

The tax issue has thrown Democrats on the defensive going back to the Reagan era. Only a year ago, Mr. Obama acceded to Republican demands for an extension of all of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts, including those for wealthy Americans.

The popularity of direct benefits to millions of elderly Americans has deterred Republican challenges to Social Security and Medicare for even longer. In their 2010 drive to recapture the House of Representatives, Republican candidates campaigned on cutting spending in general but not entitlement cuts in particular.

Yet rising alarm over America’s long-term fiscal shortfall has emboldened both sides.

In a fight between Democrats seeking tax fairness and Republicans seeking Medicare cuts, I’m inclined to believe that Republicans will have more success, particularly because the Democratic President is a week away from announcing the cuts that Republicans claim to seek.

David Dayen

David Dayen