“So now we’re doing what we can to prove there’s common ground in an attempt to convince the president to stop campaigning and to work with us,” a senior GOP aide said.
Democratic leadership aides said the withholding bill is likely to sail through the Senate this week — but that it won’t help the GOP. Republicans, they said, have changed their tone after the bruising debt ceiling debate but haven’t fundamentally changed their approach.
“It’s still brinkmanship and obstructionism, but with a nicer face on it,” one leadership aide said.
The larger perception that the GOP is blocking the president’s jobs bill won’t change, they said, if a few narrow provisions become law.
Small-ball ploys have no chance of penetrating the Beltway bubble, they said, and they point to Congressional Republicans’ poor poll numbers as evidence. Some 71 percent in a CBS/New York Times poll last week said Congressional Republicans don’t have a clear jobs plan.
Senate Democrats, meanwhile, are expected to push ahead with their plan to hold a vote this week on an infrastructure package taken from the president’s jobs package. It will be tied to a millionaire surtax the GOP has already rejected several times and is sure to do so again.
Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said Senate Democrats need to decide whether they want to legislate or just go along with their plans to try to whack the GOP.
“Do they want to actually pass legislation that will help create a better environment for jobs — or do they just want to continue their strategy of proposing legislation that’s designed for failure and 30-second ads?” he asked.
Republicans have repeatedly charged Democrats with trying to dismiss the GOP’s efforts to work with them — including the passage of a patent reform bill and free-trade agreements — arguing they need to paint the GOP as the bogeyman, given the state of the economy.
McConnell noted last week on CNN that Obama declined to hold a big bipartisan signing ceremony for the trade agreements.
“They’re ashamed to … mention any of the things that they do with Republicans because it steps on their storyline. Their storyline is that there must be some villain out there who’s keeping this administration from succeeding.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, meanwhile, kept up the drumbeat Friday that Republicans are blocking items that even GOP voters support.
“Republicans out in the country support building roads and bridges and schools. They support putting police officers and teachers back to work. They support tax cuts for everyone who receives a paycheck,” he said.
The fate of that larger $447 billion jobs package, meanwhile, is likely tied to that of the super committee tasked with coming up with a deficit reduction package. Democrats have already proposed adding several hundred billion dollars in stimulus measures to any package, which would be a major carrot to get Democratic votes for what might include difficult cuts in Medicare and other programs supported by Democrats.