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Q: On jobs legislation, what would be the best outcome for your party?
DEMOCRATS (103 votes)
Bipartisan bill enacted 57 percent Essentially Democratic bill enacted 40 percent No 2010 jobs bill enacted 0 percent Either bill enacted (volunteered) 3 percent
"Our senators in tough races need to show that they are willing to work with the opposition party and get something done."
"When you're the majority, bipartisanship is magnanimous and smart."
"The voters want to see the partisan gamesmanship put aside and have Washington solve problems, jobs being No. 1."
"A jobs bill that has Republican and Democratic support will provide some protection from political attacks by the Republicans and be more widely accepted by the public."
"Any legislative achievement that focuses on jobs right now would be a boost for the Democrats. That's why the Republicans will not agree to anything."
"It would show that Democrats can actually lead."
"Right now, voters are increasingly thinking that Democrats are incapable of getting their act together and passing a Democratic agenda or working across the aisle to get a bipartisan agenda through. If they think that way in November, they'll give Republicans a chance to lead."
"We need some cover now due to the failures and GOP tactics of 2009: The good news is, so do they."
Essentially Democratic bill
"We need to show we are getting something done. It's hard to be bipartisan when the other side just wants you to fail."
"We will own the issue; it might as well be our bill."
"We need a good bill that works. It is already weaker than needed."
"Democrats need something to take back to their base for midterm elections. And the Republican health care proposals can't serve that purpose."
"Bipartisanship is like [psychologist Abraham] Maslow's self-actualization [theory], a lofty goal but rarely achieved."
"The Republicans don't want government to solve problems. They want government to fail. Screw 'em. Pass legislation and make them explain to the millions of people that are hurting why they chose to put politics ahead of the interests of their constituents."
REPUBLICANS (105 votes)
Bipartisan bill enacted 31 percent Essentially Democratic bill enacted 25 percent No 2010 jobs bill enacted 38 percent Depends; doesn't matter (volunteered) 5 percent Republican bill enacted (volunteered) 2 percent
"Unemployment will undoubtedly be dropping. And Republicans will need to take some credit."
"Republicans can't be all 'no.' "
"Being the 'no' party will pick up more seats, but at some point we have to start governing."
"This is the one issue Republicans cannot dig in against. They must show that they're willing to be bipartisan on jobs legislation."
"A truly bipartisan bill would give both sides something to tout, but it means compromise, not dictating."
Essentially Democratic bill
"Let the Democrats own the economy. A bipartisan bill could mean bipartisan blame and a bipartisan spanking at the polls. A March stimulus is unlikely to produce results by November."
"Looming tax increases, deficits, and regulations will stifle real jobs pickup, so let Democrats spend money and fail again."
"What is best politically is not the same as what is best for the country. What would be best politically would be for the Democrats to pass a bill over the objections of Republicans and have the unemployment rate remain at a level that is unacceptable."
"Will keep government spending at the forefront."
No 2010 jobs bill
"Payoff awaits the party that can stop these spending boondoggles."
"Without progress on jobs, it will simply hurt Democrats and help Republicans."
"Hard to argue that the stimulus was a mistake, but a second government-driven effort will be a success."
"Frustration with the institution drags down those in control, Democrats more than our guys."
"It would demonstrate that the Democrats can't run the railroad."
Q: Who will benefit more from the White House-sponsored bipartisan health care summit?
DEMOCRATS (103 votes)
Democrats 85% Republicans 13% (Volunteered: Neither, 2 percent; both, 1 percent.)
"Our ideas are more popular than theirs. And they look like stiffs."
"If there is a choice between Democrats and Republicans, we benefit. Standing alone kills the Democrats."
"The president sets the agenda, so he can put the GOP on the spot and force them to take a position and defend it."
"Do Republicans confront the president or try to appear genuinely interested in working with him? That is a lose-lose option for Republicans."
"The public wants more product and less bickering. A bipartisan summit reduces the ability Republicans have to continue to obfuscate."
"The paucity of Republican proposals will become all too apparent."
"Democrats gain more by keeping the appearance of bipartisanship alive and for maybe, just maybe, moving some Republicans to vote on a plan."
"First, voters want collaboration. And we win when they see us collaborating. Second, we need to reframe the discussion about health care. And this is a highly visible opportunity to accomplish that."
"The 'let's start over' message can be a deadly one. It allows them to be 'for' something, without ever having to produce anything."
"Voters don't want a trillion-dollar health care bill. And we're going to be defending it."
"All they have to do is show up, be constructive, ask tough questions, and raise concerns. That is exactly what the American people want; they do not want a bill."
REPUBLICANS (105 votes)
Democrats 62% Republicans 30% (Volunteered: Waste of time, who cares, 3 percent; neither, 2 percent; both, 2 percent; only President Obama, 1 percent.)
"The bipartisanship offer may be unserious, but Obama benefits from opening the door while television cameras roll."
"Drawing Republicans into the health care quagmire can only help Democrats."
"They are already in the tank on health care. They have little to lose by smoking out a GOP plan or accentuating the 'Party of No.' "
"Harder for Republicans to blame the Democrats when they're sitting at the same table."
"Republicans do have some upside but may not have the right spokesmen in the room. I'd rather have some of the doctors in the Congress."
"It lets them reframe the debate as 'real solutions versus no solutions.' "
"There is no way we can orchestrate that summit and not look either obstructionist or subservient."
"It's all political theater. And they control the microphones."
"It's like Republicans have been invited to bring a knife to a gun fight."
"It will reinforce their base and further alienate liberals from Democrats."
"Republicans have better ideas. And the summit will give more visibility to all the problems with the approach taken by Democrats."
"Republicans, if they can expose it as a hollow PR attempt on the part of the White House -- highlighting its refusal to start drafting from scratch, for instance."
"People have already decided they don't like one-party control. This is an opportunity to present alternatives. We need this."
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This article appears in the Feb. 20, 2010, edition of National Journal.