No Rallying Point for Congressional Insiders on Jobs
The future of President Obama's jobs proposal in Congress remains questionable, according to this week's National Journal Congressional Insiders Poll. Members of Congress surveyed from each party are coalescing around individual components of the package, but with little overlap across the aisle.
|Which of these components of President Obama's jobs package would you consider supporting as legislation?|
|Extending and expanding payroll
|Investing in infrastructure, transportation
improvements, and school modernization
|Investing in the hiring and retention of
education and first-responder jobs
|Ratifying trade deals with Colombia,
Panama, and South Korea
|Extending unemployment benefits for the
Republican Congressional Insiders found little to be excited about in the president's proposals, with the exception of his call to ratify trade deals with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.
"This is a bipartisan jobs win for the president that tells the world America is back on the trade field," said one Republican member of Congress. "Send them up!" Another expressed frustrated support, saying, "These trade deals have been sitting on his plate for years. And this is the guy that wanted to double our exports?"
Most Democratic Congressional Insiders weren't as sold on the trade deals' benefits. "When are we going to learn that our modern approach to trade creates jobs in other countries, not America?" asked one Democratic lawmaker.
Other Democrats lent their support, but with reservations. "Yes on the trade deals," said one, "as long as their ratification is accompanied by a companion Trade Adjustment Assistance bill."
Democratic Congressional Insiders were considerably more enthusiastic about other components of the president's proposal, most notably the call for investments in infrastructure, transportation improvements, and school modernization.
That type of investment "is the best job creator and offers the most political protection," explained one Democratic member of Congress, "because the work and jobs can be seen and measured."
"Without a doubt," added another, "these kinds of projects will create a ripple effect that will affect all areas of our economy in a positive way."
Some Republicans offered measured backing for the concept, but most stopped short of supporting infrastructure legislation.
"Too bad the stimulus was supposed to be 50 percent [infrastructure] and ended up being only 7," commented one Republican lawmaker. "Finally wising up, but now we are broke."
"Building local schools and paying the tab for teachers and first responders are primarily state and local functions," said another. "The federal government cannot keep financing such activities. These are nonstarters."
Even the president's payroll tax cut proposals failed to ignite much cross-party support. The majority of Democratic members of Congress surveyed said they would consider supporting the legislation, but skeptics loomed.
"Just a political gimmick with little real economic benefit," said one Democratic Insider. "And [it risks] seriously underfunding Social Security in the long term."
Meanwhile, despite one Republican Insider's declaration that "I still haven't met a tax cut I didn't like," less than a third of the Republican members surveyed said they'd consider supporting the president's payroll tax proposals as legislation.
Many Democratic Congressional Insiders lined up behind most or all of the president's agenda. "All of the above and more," declared one. "Use all the tools in the toolbox!"
But one Republican Insider assessed the jobs package more cynically.
"Frankly, the president's proposal looks more and more like a campaign ploy and less and less like a serious effort to find common ground. Obama appears to be setting up Republicans to take the blame for the state of the economy rather than actually trying to pass a bill."
The National Journal Congressional Insiders Poll is a regular anonymous survey of Democratic and Republican Members of Congress.