Obama’s bad jobs trade

Medicare cuts to pay for a stimulus plan that voters don't think will work? No wonder his poll numbers are dropping

Topics: Unemployment, How the World Works, Barack Obama,

Obama's bad jobs tradeU.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks to military personnel at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, June 15, 2010. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY HEADSHOT) (Credit: © Jim Young / Reuters)

The juxtaposition of two Wednesday headlines does not bode well for President Obama:

From Bloomberg: “Obama Approval Plummets to New Low Among Americans Skeptical of Jobs Plan.”

From the Financial Times: “Obama to Propose Medicare and Medicaid Cuts.”

When you are proposing cuts to programs American voters like in order to pay for an initiative that American voters don’t think will work, you’re in trouble. Even in the unlikely event that Congress approves Obama’s job plan, there’s still a worst case scenario: The economy doesn’t improve, and Republicans running for president get to blame Obama both for high unemployment and for cutting Medicare.

Digging into a couple of other polls that also show growing dissatisfaction with Obama, the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent argues that the real takeaway should be that voters are unhappy with the economy, and not the jobs plan. When broken down into its constituent parts, the American Jobs Act polls well.

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But that’s got to be scant consolation for the White House. Even if Americans support parts of the jobs plan in principle, Bloomberg’s polling indicates that “by a margin of 51 percent to 40 percent, Americans doubt the package of tax cuts and spending proposals intended to jumpstart job creation that Obama submitted to Congress this week will bring down the 9.1 percent jobless rate.”

Meanwhile, they really, really like their Medicare.

Obama’s obvious bet is that Republicans will reject the jobs plan, and the politically unsavory cuts to Medicare won’t materialize. That will leave him free to campaign against Republican obstructionism. But that also still leaves Obama with a bad economy chained around his neck. And if that’s what’s making voters unhappy, they will still be unhappy a year from now no matter how vociferously the president tears into the GOP.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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