President Barack Obama’s private musings while waiting to be introduced at an American Jobs Act event:
Pass this bill.
I admit it’s not “yes, we can,” but it gets the crowd chanting. Said it 18 times before Congress, 12 times in the Rose Garden, 24 in Raleigh, 18 in Richmond, 18 in Columbus. Maybe I'll set a new record today.
The dirty secret is I don’t really want to pass this bill. Like that historian told my senior advisors, I can’t win re-election by emphasizing what I’ve done. Better to run against a do-nothing Congress, Harry Truman-style. I do wish the House Republicans would stop passing stuff though.
I love that this jobs package is mostly recycled. We already passed a tax credit for hiring the long-term unemployed. Already claimed my second stimulus would create more construction jobs. Said last September “we want to set up an infrastructure bank,” promised last August that my state bailout bill would “save the jobs of teachers,” announced in March 2010 that the HIRE Act would let businesses “write off investments…in equipment this year” and pledged in February 2009 that we’d eliminate wasteful projects. Yet all things can be made new again! Amazing.
It’s true a bunch of the ideas are already in force and most haven’t done much good, including the Social Security payroll tax holiday. Extending it costs $175 billion, speeds up Social Security’s bankruptcy. The trust fund will have to be repaid, but by whoever follows me in 2017.
I’m sure I can even get away with calling my bill bipartisan, even if just a Republican or two have supported only a provision here or there once. And best of all, I get to claim the bill is paid for. Forget that I couldn’t get these tax increases when Democrats ran Congress. Landrieu and Begich hate the energy ones, Conrad and Baucus opposed limiting charity and mortgage deductions, other Democrats are down on other tax increases. But as long as I attack Republicans for protecting “millionaires and billionaires,” the MoveOn crowd and Michael Moore will stop complaining.
Then there’s spending cuts. That guy from ABC — Tapper — is giving me a hard time again, saying I’m “trying to pad” the numbers by counting savings that were already happening from winding down Iraq and Afghanistan and double counting $1 trillion in cuts from the debt ceiling deal. What’s with that guy, anyway? He needs to fall in line. Of course I’m padding the numbers. How else could I claim to be saving trillions?
The next thing you know, NBC’s Chuck Todd will dust off what I told him a couple of years ago, that “the last thing you want to do is to raise taxes in the middle of a recession.” Too bad 68 percent in that Bloomberg poll feel we’re in a recession.
But, hopefully, details will get lost when I talk about the “Buffett rule” and “pay their fair share.” I know the rich pay most of the income taxes and at higher rates than anyone else, but why let facts get in the way? I need to win this election! Warren should give his secretary stock. Then she’d lower her tax bill like he does by getting lots of capital gains.
Today, I think I’ll do the thing where I talk about bipartisanship, then strafe Republicans. Give that riff about “this larger notion that the only thing we can do to restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everybody’s money, and let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they’re on their own…that’s not the story of America.” Of course, I’ve never heard a real Republican say this and don’t believe they’re unpatriotic, but calling them un-American drives 'em crazy.
And when the jobs bill doesn’t pass, I can blame it all on the GOP, not nervous-nelly Democrats like both Nelsons and Casey and Tester and McCaskill, who say they have “concerns” or accuse me of ducking hard issues.
What is it with my own party? Saw a report in my favorite rag, Politico, about a conference call last week where “donors and strategists commiserated over their disappointment” in me. Someone on the call described the mood as “awful…People feel betrayed, disappointed, furious, disgusted, hopeless.” Well, can’t please everyone all the time.
Well, enough of this: they’re starting the music in the auditorium. That’s my signal. Are they playing “City of Blinding Love” by U-2 again? Much better than “Hail to the Chief.” How’s it go? “The more you see, the less you know/the less you find out as you go/I knew much more then/than I do now.” OK, fired up, ready to go and remember, pass this bill!
“Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.”
Karl Rove is a former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush. He is a Fox News contributor and author of "Courage and Consequence" (Threshold Editions, 2010). To continue reading his column in The Wall Street Journal, click here.)