On Thursday, President Obama, after some hassling with the GOP leadership, is to speak to a joint session of Congress. He will also lecture and attack lawmakers. Expect a campaign speech cloaked as a jobs plan. The President is expected to deploy a central element of his reelection strategy: blaming Congress for his failings. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney previewed the strategy last week when he complained that the American people are “sick and tired” of congressional partisanship. It could work. RealClearPolitics has Congress pegged at an abysmal 12.3% approval rating.
Ultimately, of course, the only job the President will try to save with this speech is his own.
ObamaCare Still Unpopular
One reason for the abysmal poll numbers of Congress and the President is ObamaCare. Recent ObamaCare polls from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Rasmussen indicate that the American people want it repealed today. A top adviser to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made the claim last week that the President’s health care law “is as important as the civil rights law.”
This is as ridiculous a claim as Vice President Joe Biden’s comparing the Tea Party to “terrorists” and Obama’s comparing Republicans to “hostage takers.” The blame-then-demonize-your-opponent strategy seems to have permeated this administration.
The President’s Jobs Plan
ABC News reported some details of the President’s so-called jobs plan. One element is tax relief, providing incentives for companies that create jobs and hire new workers. Paying companies to hire workers will not create long-term economic growth, and is just another administration attempt to buy its way out of high unemployment numbers.
The plan may also contain a payroll tax holiday. To be effective, any tax cuts should be substantial and permanent to allow individuals and businesses to plan long-term new spending. Remember that the last Obama stimulus contained $100 billion in tax rebates to people who did not pay any income taxes—yet, they called that provision a tax cut.
The President also is expected to promote a so-called infrastructure bank. This will allow the government to dole out spending for road and school construction projects that will be demanded by Obama’s union buddies.
Another element is to have the government pay a portion of an employee’s salary while the employee is in the first eight weeks of company training. This is a warmed-over version of Obama’s “Making Work Pay” tax credit. Some would call this more corporate socialism and a way for the President to further complicate the tax code.
The Republican Jobs Plan
The Republicans have their own jobs agenda. According to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R.-Va.), the plan contains provisions to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses by requiring congressional review of any big new proposed regulations. It also would audit existing regulations, eliminating those that hinder economic growth.
Comprehensive tax reform is another element. The Republican plan would streamline the tax code and lower tax rates to a top rate of 25% for corporations and small businesses. Congress needs to move toward a flat tax so that all Americans pay the same low tax rate. Lower taxes without complicated deductions would simplify the tax code, provide fairness and encourage economic growth.
Approval of the three pending free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea is another element that would open up new markets to American-made products. Free trade has been on hold because the Obama administration is using these agreements to leverage another big spending plan: Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for workers displaced by free trade. The problem with TAA is that it is a supplement to unemployment insurance and a redundant program.
United Nations Reform
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R.-Fla.) has a great idea to force transparency and accountability onto the United Nations. The UN Transparency, Accountability and Reform Act of 2011 (HR 2829) would withhold funds from the UN to force reform. The Heritage Foundation’s Brett Schaefer has found the UN’s General Assembly votes are hostile to U.S. interests. Schafer argues that “over the 28-year period that the State Department has reported the statistic, only 31.7% of nonconsensus votes at the UN have gone our way.”
“This lack of support is jarring, considering that the United States has been the largest financial supporter of the United Nations since the organization’s founding in 1945,” Schafer writes. Cutting funding to an institution that thwarts U.S. foreign policy goals is long overdue.
Brian H. Darling is a senior fellow for Government Studies at The Heritage Foundation.
First appeared in Human Events