Dan Shaviro made a point worth repeating in assessing Obama's jobs proposals, in What would Nixon Do?, Sept 7, 2011. He noted that Obama typically compromises before he starts, so he ends up with a much smaller and less courageous policy than he should have had, one that carries out Republican policies and Republican choices. Those Republican policies inevitably fail, and Obama ends up with the blame.
Here's an excerpt of what Shaviro says.
[T]here is also another standard Nixon trick that, sleazy though it was in context, the Obama Administration ought to think about. Nixon was a big fan of proposing legislation that he knew couldn't be passed, specifically because if it wasn't passed he would get a campaign issue. E.g., supposedly in 1970 he was disappointed by his success in getting the Democratic Congress to pass a tough crime bill that contained provisions that, under the quaint standards of the time, were considered odious by civil libertarians. Nixon had deliberately put these things in the proposed legislation, although they were largely symbolic and expected to have little actual impact on crime, because he wanted the Democrats to refuse to pass the legislation, whereupon he would make it a campaign issue and blame rising crime levels on them. They took the issue away by acceding.
How would such a scenario play out today? If Nixon faced Obama's current political circumstances, he would not be trying actually to enact stimulus legislation. He would know that he had zero chance of getting anything that would make a significant difference. He would want to propose something that the opposition WOULDN'T pass, and that he could then campaign on. (And it is clear this time around, unlike with the 1970 crime legislation, that the Congress won't accede in order to take away the issue.)
We could use a bit of that thinking today. Why not propose something that is actually big, dramatic, and well-designed? And why not make reasonable, economically supportable arguments about why and how much it might actually help? Then Obama could rightly criticize the Republicans and blame the labor market on them when they fail to pass it.
This would not just be Nixon-style maneuvering. It would also help make the correct point that, since at least mid-2009, we have actually been following Republican budget policies and they haven't worked. As things stand, by repeatedly acceding to them, even in what he proposes, he accepts a state of affairs in which they actually set the policy yet he takes the blame.
Meanwhile, Obama is collaborating in basic miseducation of American voters, by adopting all kinds of false or grossly overstated Republican claims about how regulatory burden and budget deficits are responsible for the jobs situation.