The president of the United States will address a joint session of Congress at 7 PM September 8 to encourage a better season, this following the Congressional summer break, and to outline his plan for jobs, and for the economy.The president now has an opportunity to prompt the Congress on both sides of the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle, to a new, or at least improved, period of cooperation and mutual respect. Looking back on the hand-wringing and forehead-sweating of the days prior to break, this would at least seem a sensible goal, and a worthwhile outcome.
The wrangle got off to a shaky start as the president’s spokesman, Jay Carney, Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, and Vice President Joe Biden met with consternation, even as they announced the proposed date of the president’s speech to a joint session of Congress. Protocol calls for the president to request a time period for a speech to the joint session; the House speaker invariably complies. The current request came on Wednesday, August 31. The application was for Wednesday evening, September 7. As we know, and as it turned out, the Republican presidential candidates had made plans for an important debate at the Reagan Library in California, with full media coverage, for that slot. How much of a problem could all that be? A simple agreement to amend the schedule was all that was called for. By the next morning, Thursday, in time for Morning Joe, the air was thick, explanations and apologies were being made.
On Morning Joe, Carney clarified the matter, “We contacted the speaker’s office, informed them that we were going to be asking for that day. No objection was raised at that time.” White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer spoke on later MSNBC programs with similar information.
On Thursday evening Speaker of the House John Boehner politely invited the president to make the address at 7 PM, September 8. Obama accepted, and it all worked out well, particularly perhaps for the president; the joint session, and the speech will now be aired just prior to The New Orleans Saints/Green Bay Packers NFL season opener.
Jon Huntsman, Republican candidate for the Presidency said, “This is what people hate about politics.”
But it should come as little surprise that Michele Bachman seemed to take the whole mix-up personally,and didn’t hesitate to say so. “Either, A: He wants to distract the American people so they don’t watch him, or, B: He doesn’t want the American people to hear what the next president of the United States is going to say!” “He decided he wanted to give his jobs speech at the exact same time the Republican candidates for president were going to be doing their debate at the Reagan library; does this show, maybe, a little insecurity on the part of the president?”
Rep. Bachmann went on to criticize some other matters, noticeably President Obama’s nomination of Alan Krueger to be the new chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. It’s hard to understand her position; she said, “He chose someone from Harvard with a Ph.D., and someone who works in the Treasury Department and the Department of Labor and now is teaching at Princeton.” Most would agree, that’s nothing to shake a stick at. She fully explained, “Wouldn’t you think, after all this time, that the president would figure out that it would make more sense to hire someone who’s at least run a lemonade stand to be his economic advisor?” Perhaps if Kruger had been in a position to respond, he could have raised the issue of two-dollar-a-gallon gasoline.
Obama has more to worry about than scheduling. He has to set some precedent regarding harmony and reciprocity. In the closing sessions of Congress, before the congressional break, his attempts at compromise evoked disdain and derision.
The president is expected to unveil plans for a new stimulus to induce job production in our unsteady economy. There is now an important need to avoid a recession, or a steady worsening of already troubling trends. The money from the new stimulus package, he is expected to say, will go primarily toward an “infrastructure bank,” for work programs on roads and bridges, airports, schools and other public works. While the infrastructure bank is in preparation, other ways to spur work will be initiated. The construction industry will benefit from school repairs and the altering of existing school building for more efficiency. Since the federal government will support these work programs, the states will be expected to halt teacher layoffs. In addition, temporary jobs will be developed, so the unemployed may have on-the-job training while still receiving unemployment or other compensation.
The president makes his point this way, “It is my intention to lay out a series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy by strengthening small businesses, helping Americans get back to work and putting more money in the paychecks of the middle class and working Americans, while still reducing our deficit and getting our fiscal house in order.”