What to Watch for in Obama's Jobs Speech

Can the president appease his base and Republicans at once?
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2011 7:18 AM CDT
Updated Sep 8, 2011 7:48 AM CDT
President Barack Obama speaks during a Labor Day event at Detroit's Renaissance Center, headquarters of General Motors, Monday, Sept., 5, 2011, in Detroit, Mich.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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(Newser) – President Obama gives his much-hyped jobs speech tonight, and though the stakes are high, expectations are pretty low. Obama’s “task is nearly impossible,” Politico writes: “appease liberals, appeal to independents, win over some Republicans and make a compelling case to Washington-weary voters.” Here’s what Washington is listening for:

  • How big is it? Progressives are pushing for a $300 billion plan with few tax cuts, but the White House has dialed down expectations, with Jay Carney urging people to look for “the substance beneath the number.” But based on the details released yesterday, Democrats don’t like the substance, either.

  • Is he attacking? Will Obama be conciliatory toward Republicans, or call them out to their faces, with stump speech-worthy attacks? John Boehner and Eric Cantor are preemptively calling for consensus to hedge against that.
  • Where’s the deficit? Obama has said his long-term deficit reduction plan will be in yet another speech, which Politico says “makes sense to economists” and politicos, “but can get lost in translation to the broader public.”
  • What happens next? Odds are ratings will be low, and some Republicans are boycotting. “The question isn’t, what will the speech say,” says one Democratic aide. “The question is, what does he do after?”

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