In an election year rarity in this divided U.S. Congress, President Obama tomorrow will actually get a chance to sign important legislation that actually passed the Republican-led House despite being helpful to his re-election efforts.
In a White House ceremony, the president will sign into law legislation that will keep college student loan rates from doubling and will provide $105 billion in transportation spending over the next 27 months intended to create or save about 3 million jobs. The law will also maintain federal flood insurance—an important measure in this time of climate change leading to crazy and unpredictable weather events.
Though Republicans are accusing the president of posturing to gain votes, which of course they find anathema for a president in an election year, the fact that Republicans voted for the measure at all shows how much they didn’t want to be accused of hurting young voters or preventing new jobs from being created—though they did seem to react with glee when the latest jobs numbers were disappointing, showing just 90,000 new jobs created in June.
Obama has been blasting away at the obstructionist Congress for the past two years, claiming their refusal to pass any federal spending measures had caused the economy to remain in a precarious state. Poll numbers show the American people generally believe him and they blame the economy more on Bush and Congress than on Obama. Maybe Congress members have started paying attention to those same polls.
Obama will be joined at the White House by construction workers and college students, two groups that will add much to the visual of a president concerned about jobs and the middle class and about young people and the future.