Life is full of coincidences. What are the chances, for example, that a televised GOP presidential debate and the president’s much ballyhooed “jobs speech” before a joint session of Congress would end up being scheduled for the same night and time?
Republicans, who announced the date and time of the debate months ago, believe the scheduling snafu is no coincidence. They are accusing the White House, which announced the timing of the jobs speech on Wednesday, of trying to upstage them.
Balderdash, says Press Secretary Jay Carney. He told reporters that “the conflict as an unavoidable result of the vagaries of trying to sync the schedules of two entire branches of government.” He also said the administration would “welcome” a decision by debate hosts to “adjust the timing of their debate so that it didn’t conflict.” In other words, “We don’t care who was here first. I won.” Or something like that.
The decision could backfire. As FOX News notes:
[B]y scheduling the speech on the same night, the president runs the risk of becoming even more of a punching bag should the debate sponsors—NBC News and Politico—push back the time. Republican candidates would have an immediate opportunity to rebut the president’s speech on live television.
FOX also points out that “technically, the president must be formally invited by Congress in order to address a joint session and can’t just show up,” to which the White House responds, “I won,” etc.
As for the plan itself—or “outline,” as the White House referred to it recently—the president wrote in a letter to Senate Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner:
It is my intention to lay out a series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy by strengthening small businesses, helping Americans get back to work, and putting more money in the paychecks of the Middle Class and working Americans, while still reducing our deficit and getting our fiscal house in order.
Whether he intends to get more specific than that by the night of the speech is anyone’s guess.
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