Looking to Round 2 of the jobs fight

Is Congress going to pass the American Jobs Act? Let’s just say it’s a long shot. But given the economic need, and the popularity of the plan’s provisions, what’s the Democratic plan in the event of predictable Republican obstructionism?

President Obama, in his press conference this morning, said something I hadn’t heard from him before.

“[If Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell] chooses to vote against it, or if members of his caucus choose to vote against it, I promise you we’re going to keep on going, and we will put forward maybe piece by piece each component of the bill. And each time they’re going to have to explain why it is that they’d be opposed to putting teachers back in the classroom, or rebuilding our schools, or giving tax cuts to middle-class folks, and giving tax cuts to small businesses. […]

“If … everybody on Capitol Hill is cynical and saying there’s no way that the overall jobs bill passes in its current form, we’re just going to keep on going at it. I want everybody to be clear. My intention is to insist that each part of this, I want an explanation as to why we shouldn’t be doing it, each component part: putting people back to work rebuilding our roads, putting teachers back in the classroom, tax cuts for small businesses and middle-class families, tax breaks for our veterans. We will just keep on going at it….”

One of the underlying points of White House’s public relations campaign is to make Republicans pay a political price for rejecting a credible, popular, bipartisan jobs bill during an unemployment crisis. What Obama said today is that he hopes to see the GOP pay a political price more than once.

In other words, if Republicans kill the legislation, Dems will then press GOP members to start also killing its component parts, one at a time. It’s one thing to reject a package deal; it’s more striking to force Republicans to vote against popular ideas, over and over again — no to infrastructure investments, no to small business tax cuts, no to saving teachers’ jobs, no to the jobs-for-veterans tax break, etc.

Would the purpose of these string of votes be political? Obviously, though Dems may hope to catch a break and wear down some GOP members. But as stunts go, this would make a lot of sense — going into an election year, with 9% unemployment, getting Republicans on record opposing every good idea on jobs puts the party in an awkward spot.