David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, gives an analysis of this week's top stories on Capitol Hill, including President Obama's trip with the South Korean President to Michigan, the prospects for the job bill, and potential public works projects.
Obama heads to Michigan
It's not difficult to see the motivations behind President Obama's trip to Michigan this weekend. Michigan is essential to President Obama's reelection strategy. He won the state by 17 points last time, and he realizes that he has to win it again if he wants to be reelected.
Beyond that, it gives him a chance to stick up for his support of the auto bailout, because the plant he's actually visiting was closed by GM years ago until the federal rescue. It makes the kind of subcompact cars that are popular in South Korea, which was the partner in the biggest trade agreement that Congress approved this week.
"The President is breaking with tradition and inviting his state visitor -- President Lee of South Korea -- on his visit with him," says Hawkings. "They're getting on a plane to fly to Detroit and to visit this GM plant."
A Republican jobs bill
Senate Republicans have come up with their own jobs bill this week. The plan has as its principle authors John McCain and Rand Paul -- two wings of the Senate Republicans. Mitch McConnell had said that he and the Senate Republicans weren't going to do this, so it's unclear if this is a leadership-driven move or a move by two well-known iconoclasts.
"The plan is down the line of Republican orthodoxy," says Hawkings. "It's long deregulation and tax cuts and offshore oil drilling, and has nothing in common with what the Obama package was."
The bill has zero chance, according to Hawkings. Senate Democrats, who continue to control the agenda, will continue to try and put pieces of the Obama jobs package up for vote before the Senate.
"They're still trying to figure out a way to get the Senate into votes for or against paying for job creation with a tax on millionaires," says Hawkings. "This is a political winner. The Senate Republican plan is a sideshow of one day only."
The six-year highway bill
The House Republicans have been distinguished this year by not speaking with one voice about many things. There's a big idealogical spectrum between the Tea Party freshmen on the far right and some of the old guard closer to the center. The latter are the ones who are more inclined to say a decent amount of spending on public works is a good thing.
We now know that within the past day or two, the President and Speaker Boehner have spent a few minutes on the telephone, trying to talk about, among other things, the trade deal. The President actually called the Speaker to congratulate him on passing the trade agreement so quickly and smoothly. Boehner used the occasion to upbraid the president, saying he is mischaracterizing the Republican agenda on jobs.
Boehner went on to say that they could do public works, but only in a fiscally responsible way.
"It's hard to understand how you could add to the deficit by spending tens of billions of dollars on roads and bridges without coming up with a way to pay for it," says Hawkings.