For months, the party has focused on shrinking the government, sparking ugly battles with Democrats over the budget and the debt ceiling. But with job growth back at the top of the congressional agenda, Republican lawmakers have found themselves without a clear strategy to reduce the 9.1 percent national unemployment rate.
To many Republicans, ignoring the issue likely to define the next election is a risky proposition. While political wisdom holds that voters typically unload economic frustration on the president, lawmakers like Rooney have reason to be restless: Congress' approval rating has been in the tank for months, and tied the all-time low of 13 percent last week, according to a Gallup poll.
"We get a lot of email saying, 'We want all incumbents out. That includes you. We put you in, we'll take you out,'" Rooney said.
And so Rooney, a sophomore congressman under no obligation to lead on economic policy, crafted his own jobs bill to tout to constituents. Senate Republicans did the same earlier this month, acknowledging it was needed to show Americans the proposals they support, rather than just what they oppose.
Republicans are in real trouble here. More and more Americans are seeing the Republicans are for nothing more than whatever President Obama isn't, they overwhelmingly approve of the measures included in the now dead American Jobs Act, and are now seeing the GOP actively blocking common sense stuff they want to see passed.
Republicans like Rooney are desperately trying to prove they are not a Do-Nothing Congress, but for three years now they have all but opposed everything the President has asked for. Voters gave the House keys to the GOP and the economy hasn't improved...and the GOP doesn't care about jobs, they just care about winning in 2012.
The current crop of Clown Car Kids isn't exactly making things better for them, either. You're going to see a lot more of this as November 2012 draws closer.