It's an outcome that only makes sense in the posturing world of Washington politics. Last night, President Obama's $447 billion jobs bill died in the Senate along a party line vote. The legislative defeat was billed as an "embarrassing setback" for the Democrat-controlled Senate. But in reality, the vote played perfectly-well into the campaign playbooks of both Republicans and Democrats.
A win for Republicans Now that the bill's been defeated, President Obama says he's prepared to break the jobs bill into smaller pieces to get it through Congress. This is precisely what Republicans asked for after President Obama unveiled his jobs bill initially. It allows the Republicans to stand strong against aspects of the bill they don't like (tax increases) and double down on elements they support (tax breaks). In a statement, House Speaker John Boehner called the move "encouraging," even "genius." "As you will recall," he said. "That was the idea proposed by Republicans nearly four weeks ago." According to The Wall Street Journal, a legislative aide says Democrats plan to hold a series of votes on elements of the jobs bill in the coming weeks.
A win for Democrats It's not a strained media narrative to suggest that the White House saw this vote coming a mile away. "Winning in Congress was never really part of the plan," write Carrie Budoff Brown and Glenn Thrush at Politico. "President Barack Obama didn’t do much to bring along lawmakers on his jobs bill ... The relentless focus on the American Jobs Act wasn’t about racking up a legislative win. It was always about laying the foundation for the only real argument Obama has in 2012: I have a plan to create jobs now and Republicans don’t." A senior Democratic strategist lays out the calculus. “The president has learned that a loss can be a win,” the strategist said. “We’ve done everything to win legislatively, to scrape through. Now we’re determined to keep the high ground on a set of issues where we have the overwhelming support of the American people.” It's clear that not just the White House saw this as a viable strategy. As Politico's Mike Allen reports, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer is already dubbing the GOP strategy "Tea Party economics." In a statement, Schumer wrote "If Republicans continue opposing job-creating measures, they risk being blamed for whatever economic reality the country confronts in 2012. But Democrats must make this case. In the coming weeks, we will ... by branding the school of thought that resists against any job-creation measures as 'Tea Party economics.' The opponents of the President's jobs proposals should be invoked as 'Tea Party Republicans.' If their obstruction continues, it will risk a 'Tea Party recession.'"