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Joseph Biden Touts Jobs Bill, Doesn’t Rule Out 2016 Run

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call

Making the case for re-election in 2012, Vice President Joseph Biden urged Congress to pass elements of the president’s jobs package and left the door open on a possible presidential run in 2016.

“I’m not closing anything,” he said today on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “My one focus now is getting the president re-elected. That is the focus. And I’ll make up my mind on that later. I’m in probably the best shape I’ve been in my life. I’m doing pretty well. I’m enjoying what I’m doing. And as long as I do, I’m going to continue to do it. And we’ll find out, you know, [but] let’s get the president re-elected.”

He said the president’s jobs package “is not just about individual jobs, it’s about getting the economy going,” adding: “Nineteen months in a row we have created private sector jobs. Public sector jobs are down by almost a half a million.”

The Senate rejected a provision from President Barack Obama’s $447 billion jobs package last week, having blocked the entire package the week before. The provision would have provided $35 billion to help keep about 400,000 teachers and first responders on the job. It would have been paid for by a 0.5 percent tax on those making more than $1 million a year.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to hold a vote on another provision of Obama’s jobs bill the week of Oct. 31, when the Senate returns from a weeklong recess. The proposal would provide $60 billion to help the nation upgrade its aging infrastructure. That bill would be paid for with a 0.7 percent tax on millionaires.

“The vast majority of the respected, independent validators out there say that if we pass this jobs bill, the [gross domestic product] will grow by 2 percent,” Biden said, referring to the president’s overall legislation.

The jobs package is part of Democrats’ re-election strategy of focusing on overcoming Republican obstructionism and passing legislation to boost the economy, Biden said.

“If we continue to do what we are doing, it will continue to get better,” he added. “That is why it is so important that this jobs bill be passed.”

Biden singled out Republican tea party lawmakers in the House, who he believes are hurting the prospects for economic revival. 

“Things were moving, and they were even moving relatively well this last spring until we got downgraded because these guys played roulette with ‘Are we going to make a deal dealing with the debt?’” Biden said, alluding to the fight over raising the nation’s debt ceiling. The prolonged negotiations to strike a deal to raise the debt limit and cut the deficit resulted in the downgrade of America’s credit rating for the first time in its history.

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