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Obama calls on Congress to act on jobs bill

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David Brancaccio: For analysis, let’s turn live to Jim Kessler, a Capitol Hill veteran who keeps an eye on national policy at Third Way, a centrist think tank he co-founded. Mr. Kessler, good morning.

Jim Kessler: Good morning.

Brancaccio: So, the president, in the speech, was very focused on the European financial crisis, in his role really as, what, professor in chief?

Kessler: Yeah, exactly. I mean, he’s trying to educate the American people really about two headwinds that are buffeting our economy. One is external — Europe and their dismal economy and how it affects the U.S. And one is internal — which is congress and their dismal track record on passing jobs legislation. I think a lot of American people understand that congress isn’t doing a great job, but they probably really don’t know the extent of the problems in Europe and how it affects us.

Brancaccio: We were just talking to some Gallup pollsters last week about polling that showed when you ask Americans, Europe is far down their list of concerns.

Kessler: Right, it may be far down on their list of concerns, but it doesn’t mean it’s not a huge concern. Europe is in a recession and my view is that it’s going to be in a pretty deep recession. Our economy is not as dependent on Europe as it used to be in the past, but you know about 3 percent of our economy is related to European trade. It may not seem like much, but if there is real recession there, that would shave a point off of our growth, and the difference between say 2 percent GDP growth and 3 percent. It’s the difference between creating half a million jobs over the course of a year. So it matters.

Brancaccio: And of course our financial systems and banking systems are quite intertwined. Domestically, the president had that list of things he’d like to done to help the economy — any chance?

Kessler: It’s a to-do list, it’s not a wish list. So it’s designed to be a list of something a functional congress should be able to get done. You know it seems that every election cycle, the election season for congress starts earlier and earlier. And it certainly has started this congress, and normally in the election season things of significance do not get done. The president is trying, but you know, good luck, because this is tough congress that doesn’t really help.

Brancaccio: Right, because we are in the midst of the election season. Jim Kessler at Third Way, a Washington think tank, thank you very much.

Kessler: Thank you.

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