Senate Democrats will replace tax increases proposed by President Obama to pay for his $445 billion jobs bill with a more politically popular 5 percent surcharge on millionaires, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on Wednesday.
“When Democrats bring this common-sense jobs legislation to the floor, we’ll ask Americans who make more than a million dollars a year to contribute a little more,” Reid said in a morning floor speech. He said he hopes to set up a vote on the revamped jobs bill "within the next few days." That means he will seek action after the Senate passes a China currency bill and before Senate action on three free trade bills.
Reid and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-.Y., have said they planned to alter the pay-fors proposed by Obama to win support of Democrats wary of the tax increases. Democrats argued raising taxes on millionaires polls well, even among GOP voters, making it politically risky for Republicans to block the bill.
This "makes it very tough for Republicans to oppose this package," Schumer said.
Regardless of the how the bill is paid for, it a long shot to win 60 votes needed to pass the Senate or ever receive a House vote. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said on Monday that Obama’s jobs bill will not be brought to the floor as a package. But Reid wants to at least unify Democrats in support of a motion to proceed to the bill this month. Democrats hope the step hands the GOP responsibility for blocking a package that includes provisions popular with voters.
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., tried to hold an immediate vote on Obama’s plan with the jobs proposals included, causing Reid to block the move.
McConnell aimed to highlight Democratic divisions over the bill, particularly over the tax increases Obama proposed, before Reid could unify his caucus. McConnell noted that Obama has asked Congress for an immediate vote on the measure at least 12 separate times.
In pushing a bill that he knows faces opposition in both parties, “the president is not engaged in a good-faith effort to spur the economy and create jobs, he is engaged in reelection campaign,” McConnell said on Wednesday.
McConnell said Democrats “want to overhaul the bill to sharpen its political edge.”
This article appears in the October 5, 2011, edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.