President Obama’s latest “pivot to jobs” has turned out to be more of a sharp left turn. First he announced a new $447 billion stimulus of new spending and temporary tax cuts. Then on Monday he proposed to offset it with $1.5 trillion over 10 years in permanent tax hikes. Mr. Obama knows that little of what he’s proposing will pass the Republican-controlled House, so the conventional wisdom has it that the President is trying to emulate Harry Truman by setting up a “do-nothing Congress” as a re-election foil.
But the bigger news may be how much resistance Mr. Obama’s ideas are drawing from the Democrats who control the Senate. Senators from energy-producing states object to targeting oil and gas companies. “Just picking out one industry is not acceptable,” said Alaska’s Mark Begich. Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu added: “That offset is not going to fly, and [Mr. Obama] should know that.”
Even New York’s Chuck Schumer, of all unlikely partisans, has objections—notably to Mr. Obama’s plan to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire on taxpayers earning more than $200,000 (or $250,000 for married couples): “$250,000 makes you really rich in Mississippi, but it doesn’t make you rich at all in New York, and there ought to be some kind of scale based on the cost of living on how much you pay.”
One of the many differences between 1948 and 2012 is that Republicans then had majorities in both houses of Congress. Mr. Obama will find it harder to run against a do-nothing Congress when his own party is rejecting his ideas.