Democratic aides shrugged off the Democratic dissents and said breaking the bill into smaller pieces could make it harder for the GOP to oppose. Republicans will either have to give in on something or they will get the blame for a dysfunctional Congress, the aides said.
“Will Senate Republicans keep saying ‘no’ again and again to proposals which have bipartisan pedigree, all the while having no plan of their own?” a Democratic leadership aide asked.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) quoted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) own comments on Fox News in January 2009 calling for a payroll tax cut to stimulate the economy.
“They are summarily rejecting payroll taxes for families that they have supported in the past,” Durbin said, adding that McConnell and other Republicans voted for a stimulus tax cut when President George W. Bush was in office but now won’t do the same when Obama’s name is attached to it.
Durbin said the GOP has no alternative to create jobs right now.
“The Republican approach to this is to do nothing,” he said. “Absolutely nothing.”
But McConnell said Democrats designed the bill to fail so that they have an issue to run on in the next election, and he blasted the bill as nothing more than another stimulus package.
“Everyone who votes for this second stimulus will have to answer a simple but important question: Why on earth would you support an approach that we already know will not work?”
Senate Republican aides speculated that the Democratic game plan — and Obama’s hopes for re-election — lie in failing to get anything done so that he can run against the GOP.
“I’d be surprised if they didn’t design everything to draw Republican opposition,” one senior aide said, “no matter how small.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) welcomed talk of a more incremental approach on jobs but said Democrats and the White House should try to work with the GOP, and he called tax increases a “nonstarter.”
“I think that hopefully this says this is the end of the political games, and hopefully it will also mean that the White House and the president will stop going out there demanding an all-or-nothing approach, pass my bill or else, because that is pure politics,” Cantor said.
But there is precious little that the two parties actually agree on — suggesting that any substantial jobs package is likely to come out of a compromise in the deficit committee — or not at all.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.