Domestically, if I were the Republicans (not that I expect them to take my advice) I’d offer up enough votes to pass Obama’s plan and then wrap it around his neck. Essentially the too little, too late gamble that the economy will still suck in November and make Obama totally own it.
I wouldn’t be too surprised if Republicans did this. Apparently, Fox hasn’t reacted too strongly against Obama’s speech, and Republicans have been making compromise noises. They realize that being blamed for the do-nothing Congress with the 20-something approval rating puts the House in play.
That said, if Republicans tried to blame Obama, I think the effort would fail. Whatever bill came out of Congress would be a sacrifice on the holy altar of bipartisanship, and therefore would be cleansed by the blood of the both-sides-do-it lamb in the eyes of the media. The bill probably would be stripped of at least some of Obama’s proposals, so he could reasonably claim that those were the secret sauce that woulda-coulda-shoulda worked. And there’s the little matter of Republicans actually voting for the bill, when they’ve voted for almost nothing else Obama wanted. It’s going to be hard to sell the vote as an act of loyalty to the office of the President when they haven’t blindly followed him on any other issue.
That’s what was politically cunning about the speech — it drew a line that connects what everybody wants (jobs) to policies that Republicans have always supported. If Republicans agree, they at least partly own the solution, since many of the ideas were theirs. If they disagree, their prior intransigence on everything makes them look like they won’t lift a finger to help the unemployed. And, as Freddie noted earlier, the message is simple enough to communicate clearly to low-information voters.