Durbin said the president’s jobs plan will be a topic of debate in the Senate beginning next week but added that it’s more realistic to expect the bill itself to be on the floor in October.
Economist Alice Rivlin, also on CNN, echoed the view of many conservatives that the time has come for a structural change in the tax system. On the president’s proposal to offer tax incentives to small businesses to hire more people, she said: “At the margin, it could help and that’s good.”
But on the president’s Buffett Rule, she said, “The way to fix the tax code is to fix the tax code, not to add another complication.”
The jobs and tax debate is emerging as a flash point in the intensifying 2012 presidential campaign. Graham said Obama has done “everything in his power” to make himself a one-term president with policies that have made a bad economy worse. But Durbin argued that the election is still 14 months away and that Obama will not be running against a “black box” but an opponent who brings flaws of his or her own.
Durbin said the GOP will have trouble selling a candidate who has earned the support of the tea party movement and its confrontational approach to policy disputes.
“Remember, the tea party is not very popular in America,” Durbin said. “I don’t think people like that style of politics, and that’s what we’ll be facing in November 2012.”
President Bill Clinton, appearing on Sunday with McConnell on “Meet the Press,” gave Obama’s jobs plan a thumbs up. He pointed to independent economic analysis that suggests that, if adopted, the plan will boost gross domestic product and reduce unemployment in 2012, but he added, “I doubt that Republicans want that to happen in 2012.”
Clinton acknowledged the economic pressures that have thrown Obama on the defensive, saying the president has “been dealt a tough hand.” But he added: “I think he’s got a plan now, he’s on the right track. And I don’t think the poll numbers mean much right now.”