Last week the 112th Congress kicked off its fall session with a great deal of passion and fanfare.
Following a turbulent summer and torturous debt deal that left both parties thrashed and bruised and resulted in a great deal of rage pointed towards Capitol Hill, Congress started the season by putting its newly formed bipartisan super debt committee to work and welcoming President Barack Obama's invitation to speak about job creation on Thursday.
A bit of pre-congressional season drama erupted when the president's initial request for a congressional audience for Wednesday, coincidentally the evening of a televised republican presidential debate, fell through when Speaker of the House John Boehner denied the President's request – the first time in Congressional history – and suggested that the president move his speech to Thursday.
With no hurt feelings, Obama delivered what was touted as the ultimate job-creating plan to a divided and chaotic Congress. The president showed up in full force, presenting his usual oratory sans his cool logical demeanor, and instead delivered a fiery sermon on jobs. The whopping $447 billion dollar plan includes a mix of job creation goodies including tax cuts for employers taking on new employees (including those who have been unemployed for more than six months), employees themselves in the form of a payroll tax cut and other stimulus measures such as infrastructure and school spending and tax code and patent law reform.
The president also mentioned that social welfare program reform would be part of the plan and that the plan was guaranteed not to add to the existing budget deficit. Because the United States is dangerously close to falling behind foreign competitors when it comes to infrastructure and education, it was particularly exciting to hear these concessions would be a part of the plan.
The hints at much-needed tax code reform felt slight compared to Obama's previous battle over taxes and the republican unwillingness to raise taxes on the super-rich.
Though the plan does make sense and would get us on the road to creating new jobs and putting Americans to work, the President has an uphill battle. Trying to convince over half of a Congress that is more interested in seeing the president fail than seeing the economy pick up is not a very easy task. Furthermore, if this bill has any chance of passage, the president is going to need to employ the same passion he used to give the speech to get the bill passed, a passion he seemingly lacked in the debt ceiling fight.
If Obama is truly interested in seeing this bill get passed, he will need to prevent the House republicans from hijacking the debate to ensure that their priorities for job creation, mainly shredding regulations, be construed as the only strategy available and thus become the center piece. There is too much at stake for the president not to give it his all and at least begin to create jobs for struggling unemployed Americans.