Obama speech like Groundhog Day

President Obama presented his jobs plans to Congress on Thursday.

Story highlights

  • Edward Morrissey says Obama jobs speech reminded him of film "Groundhog Day"
  • He says speech was retread of jobs plans in the 2009 stimulus plan
  • He says Obama vows everything will be paid for, but will let Congress figure out how
  • Morrissey: Strategies like extending jobless benefits and payroll tax cuts are stale
In the film "Groundhog Day," Bill Murray has to live through the exact same day thousands of times. In this administration, most Americans can be forgiven for feeling as though they've lived through the same economic speech from President Obama nearly as many times. Given the extraordinary setting of a joint session of Congress, one has to question the notion of scheduling a rerun against the first-run debates taking place among Republican challengers to this president.
The speech itself was almost literally a retread of the 2009 stimulus plan Obama pushed through a friendly Congress with almost no Republican support, with one important difference: The president never mentioned the cost of his proposal. He demanded that Congress pass his bill immediately more than a dozen times during the speech, but not once did he inform Congress of its price tag.
Even worse, Obama ended up reneging on a claim made by the White House earlier this week that the bill would be entirely funded from current dollars. In the speech itself, Obama insisted that "everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything." But then Obama told Congress that while their so-called super committee meets to hash out an agreement on cutting $1.5 trillion from future spending as part of the deficit-ceiling agreement last month, they could make more cuts to cover the cost of his new bill -- again, without telling them exactly what those costs would be.
That's akin to taking a friend out for a big birthday dinner and informing him at the end that he'll have to find the money to pay the bill.
The White House insisted that it would pull those numbers together in a week to ten days. But the jobs crisis has gone on for years. While Obama was on vacation, he was telling the media that it was his single highest priority. The White House actually wanted to make this speech yesterday. And they did so without having scored their own proposal?
It isn't as if Obama had promised anything new. The "plan" -- which still has not been released -- consists of getting money to states to supposedly save the jobs of teachers and first responders, accelerating public-works projects, extending the payroll tax cut put into place in the December tax deal, and extending jobless benefits for at least another year. In case readers have forgotten, that's what Obama called for in the 2009 jobs plan in the stimulus package.
At the time, Obama promised that by spending over $800 billion in borrowed money, we would keep unemployment below 8%. Had that approach worked, Obama wouldn't have had to make a speech at all yesterday. His need to offer a Groundhog Day moment asking for a rerun of the stimulus blank check reveals just how badly his economic policies have failed -- and just how bereft this administration is of any new ideas to replace them.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ed Morrissey.