President Obama has two jobs on his hands right now. Lucky for him - and he tends to historically be lucky - the two work in tandem.
Job one: get people back to work.
He can do this in three ways: He can use government to do it. He's doing that with his American jobs bill, which he's been pushing since last September. He can do it by encouraging businesses to hire people. He's been doing that by pushing for a continued cut in the payroll tax rate.
He can do it by increasing consumer confidence. He's getting that job done by cutting the jobless rate. Good economic news leads to good economic news. The more people read about the jobless rate coming down the more they are likely to take chances on buying decisions. The more they do that, the better it is for the economy.
So today, he put out a budget that continues doing what he's doing: creating jobs. It spends a half trillion dollars on highways and rail, real good investments in our country's future, investments that get people where they have to get to do business and spend money. It creates lots of good, high-paying jobs getting those roads built and fixes, those rails laid.
So he's a jobs president right now, but also a re-election candidate. Think of President Obama right now and you think of a leader who knows what he wants. He wants to create jobs and he wants you to know it. That's his second job: getting re-elected.
The Republican opposition has its own goals. Philosophically, it is committed to smaller government, lower deficits and a lower debt down the road. Politically, it is committed to making Obama's re-election as difficult as possible.
Does the Republican philosophy of lower deficits coincide with its ambition to keep Obama from a second term. As Sarah Palin might put it, "You Betcha!" If Mitch McConnell and John Boehner can crunch government spending in the short run, they can cut off the growth in jobs. If they can do that, they can help bring about the defeat of their political opponent, Barack Obama.
So it's clear as far as we can see right now. The politics and philosophies of the two parties are at odds. President Obama wants jobs; the Republicans want to cut spending right now.
Don't kid yourself. This is the name of the game and both sides intend to win it.