(Above video via email: In this MSNBC news clip from earlier today, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, calls on President Obama to take a bold economic recovery plan directly to the American people in his upcoming speech.)
So the Democratic officials on the ground must be hearing a lot about the unemployment crisis, because it sounds like they're going to try to communicate a sense of urgency to the president before he makes his Thursday speech:
The chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and of the three caucuses of black, Hispanic and Asian members of the House would like a word with President Obama before his Thursday jobs address.
In a Tuesday letter provided by a source, the leaders, who speak for a majority of House Dems, sought to make sure that Obama keeps his eye on the jobs crisis, which has disproportionately hit minority groups.
"With unemployment at 9.1% nationally-- approaching 12% in the Hispanic community, 16.7% in the African American community and with Asian American and Pacific Islanders remaining unemployed for longer periods than any other group-- we are in a national crisis. We have learned throughout American history that big, bold action is required to put people back to work and promote economic growth," the chairs write.
"The chairs of the CBC, CAPAC, CPC, and CHC look forward to an opportunity to talk with you about proposals we would like you to consider before you address the nation this week."
These guys have to be worried about getting reelected when the administration isn't pursuing aggressive policies to help the unemployed. Personally, I don't think Obama will pay much attention to them. If he decides not to even meet with them, it's probably because the proposals are too weak to defend.
I'm hearing from Hill sources that he's about to propose a package that won't do much: $300 billion in tax cuts and federal spending with over half of that made up of continuing the payroll tax "holiday" that's weakening Social Security, extending federal unemployment benefits, less than $50 billion for infrastructure, tax credits for hiring the unemployed, and extending the current provision that allows businesses to fully write off new equipment in the first year.
In other words, just enough spending to maintain the current economic situation without actually making it better.
UPDATE: John Amato: More possible bad news from Ezra Klein:
Getting less attention in the media is the follow-up speech the White House is planning, which will lay out a specific deficit-reduction agenda that not only meets the $1.5 trillion goal of the “supercommittee,” but exceeds it and pays for the new jobs spending. These proposals will look quite similar to the grand bargain the White House offered Speaker John Boehner, and liberal groups are grimly preparing for the administration to call for raising the Medicare eligibility age.
If he does offer up raising eligibility ages then he's going to have an even more serious problem with the entire Democratic Party and not just the ones that have been unhappy for a long time. Count me included in the latter category. Dems have already won special elections based on Paul Ryan's Medicare destruction bill that the House Republicans passed so this strategy makes no sense at all, especially since their debt ceiling negotiations only made independents angrier than before. What's the definition of insanity again?