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Morning Jay: The Jobs Bill Won't Save Obama's Job

6:00 AM, Sep 14, 2011 • By JAY COST
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Picture yourself as a Republican ad man. Don’t you think you could have a field day with all this?

4. It plays to type. If John Kennedy had not been assassinated in November 1963, he likely would have been reelected by an overwhelming margin a year later. And he probably would have taken a hefty bite out of the traditional GOP base among upper income voters. 

One reason why was his 1963 proposal to cut income and business taxes. JFK wanted to stimulate the economy heading into the next election, and his advisors were split on how to do it. The liberals like John Kenneth Galbraith wanted infrastructure spending, while the conservatives like Douglas Dillon backed the tax cut. JFK sided with the conservatives and gave his famed speech to the New York Economic Club in December 1962, arguing:

The…best means of strengthening demand among consumers and business is to reduce the burden on private income and the deterrents to private initiative which are imposed by our present tax system — and this administration pledged itself last summer to an across-the-board, top-to-bottom cut in personal and corporate income taxes to be enacted and become effective in 1963.

Galbraith called it the most Republican speech ever given since McKinley. But it made political sense for JFK: Playing against the liberal type by proposing a business tax cut helped him advance into traditionally Republican strongholds.

Other presidents have done similar things. George W. Bush passed the Medicare prescription drug bill and No Child Left Behind during his first term; both initiatives were not really what you’d expect from a conservative Republican. In 1996, Bill Clinton agreed to a balanced budget and welfare reform. Again, not really what you’d expect.

But Obama is playing right into the stereotype of Democrats – that of a tax and spend liberal. Huge grants for infrastructure and state government financed by an enormous tax hike in the middle of a recession? The 2012 campaign ads write themselves! It’s almost as if the GOP has a mole in the White House secretly giving the president terrible advice.

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