• With: Dan Henninger, Mary Kissel, Steve Moore, Bret Stephens, Naomi Schaefer Riley

    This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," September 3, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report", as President Obama prepares for a major job speech, a warning from organized labor, go big or go home. Can he make a deal with Republicans without losing unions?

    Former Vice President Dick Cheney's new memoir is causing a stir. What it tells us about the Bush administration's successes and failures.

    As parents across the country send their kids off to college, sticker shock is setting in. Why does higher education cost so much, and are you getting your money's worth?

    Welcome to "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.

    With zero jobs added last month and President Obama poised for a major speech next week, labor leaders are pressing the president to go big and warning against what they call a Republican-light plan. Last week, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka accused President Obama of allowing Republicans to set terms of the debate so far, saying, quote, "Will he commit all of his energy to offering bold solutions or continue to work with the Tea Party? If he falls to nibbling around the edges, history will judge him and working people judge him."

    Joining our panel, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger editorial board member, Mary Kissel; and senior economics writer, Steve Moore.

    Dan, what do you think, go big or go home? You have to be like FDR. You have to have another $1 trillion jobs program. What are they asking him to do?

    DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: They are asking him to go big and --

    GIGOT: But what does it mean?

    HENNINGER: It means to do big -- it means to spend as much money as he can, maybe $250 billion, $300 billion to propose a big infrastructure building program, roads, schools, airports, bridges --

    GIGOT: Didn't we do that?

    HENNINGER: We did all that.

    (LAUGHTER)

    (CROSSTALK)

    HENNINGER: That I want to re-propose Card Check and do things that politically are impossible for him to do.

    GIGOT: They want him to do things that the Republicans aren't going to pass?

    HENNINGER: That's right.

    GIGOT: What is the purpose of that because the president himself --

    HENNINGER: They will feel better if he does that.

    GIGOT: But the president himself is saying we want a bipartisan plan. We want something I know will pass. That is the White House line anyway we are going to propose something that both parties like.

    HENNINGER: Paul, there is an enormous amount of frustration in American politics now. We sat here at this table several weeks ago talking about the Republican right wanting to push government in default over the debt ceiling debate. Even though there was no possibility of them winning on the argument. But that's what they want --

    (CROSSTALK)

    GIGOT: And this is the liberal equivalent?

    HENNINGER: This is the progressive equivalent of that. People are so frustrated that they want to -- their leaders to do what is politically impossible. It will make them feel better if they can emote about something big and bold.

    GIGOT: So, Mary, is this about framing the issues for the election, knowing that you are not likely to pass much?

    MARY KISSEL, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Absolutely. I think what the president wants to do next year is go to voters and say, hey, look, I wanted to do something but the Republicans wouldn't let me do it. So to some extent, it doesn't hurt him to go big at this point, because it gives him more to talk about to the Democratic base next year.

    GIGOT: OK. But the Democratic base aren't the only voters.

    KISSEL: That's right.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GIGOT: There is a lot of Americans saying we want results. At this stage, when you have zero job growth in August, when you have 1 percent GDP growth, they are going to say -- I mean, you blame Bush all you want, he did inherit a mess, but what have you done for us.

    KISSEL: That is right. You can see the line from the White House saying we didn't realize what a mess we were inheriting. It was much bigger than we thought. We are doing everything we can for you. And those Republicans, all they want is cut back on your entitlement programs. They want to give money back to the rich in terms of tax cuts.

    GIGOT: Hope and change.

    KISSEL: Hope and change.

    (LAUGHTER)

    Hope and chance.

    GIGOT: Hope and spare change.

    (LAUGHER)

    Steve, what do you think about the ideas that you hear about are on the table from the White House. And of them strike you as significant in terms of -- substantively? Never mind the politics --