Dems move to stage two of jobs fight: Hammer the GOP
Believing the public is on their side, President Obama and Democrats in Congress plan to spend the next few weeks pressuring Republicans into passing their ideas for creating jobs -- or letting them pay the political price.
The Senate on Tuesday night blocked Mr. Obama's $447 billion "American Jobs Act," after two Democrats and every Republican supported a filibuster against the bill.
Since the entire package couldn't pass, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday he plans to introduce individual elements of the plan -- which have won bipartisan support in the past -- over the next few weeks.
In the meantime, Democrats are trying to convince voters that Republicans are to blame for the continued economic gloom.
"Too many families are struggling just to get by," Mr. Obama said Wednesday at a forum on Latino Heritage in Washington. "Apparently none of this matters to Republicans in the Senate because last night, even though a majority of senators voted in favor of it, the Republican minority got together and blocked this bill."
"I've got news for them," he continued. "Not this time. Not with so many Americans out of work. We will not take no for an answer."
Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden was at a firehouse in Flint, Michigan on Wednesday to talk about how the Jobs Act would provide funding for state and local governments to keep first responders on the payroll. Since the GOP filibustered the bill -- thus preventing official debate on the Senate floor -- "we have to go over the heads of our colleagues and go to the public" to argue in favor of the bill, Biden said.
He told the firefighters behind him that the administration is "prepared to fight like crazy to do whatever we can to make sure you have the resources to protect us."
Biden said he's heard Republicans argue that any job creation from the bill would be temporary, but Biden said, "Temporary is important... Temporary is a lifetime for somebody without a job, somebody losing their house."
Mr. Obama's political arm is also capitalizing on the Republican obstruction. Jim Messina, the president's 2012 campaign manager, sent an email to supporters ahead of the vote in anticipation of the filibuster, charging that Republicans want to "suffocate the economy for the sake of what they think will be a political victory."
" Senate Republicans want to block it," Messina wrote of the jobs bill. "Not because they have a plan that creates jobs right now -- not one Republican, in Congress or in the presidential race, does. They only have a political plan."
Sen. Charles Schumer, who is in charge of Democratic messaging as head of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, wrote in a memo today that Democrats should try portray Republicans as beholden to the Tea Party, to the detriment of the country.
"With the economy at a crossroads, the GOP's current political strategy--block anything that could improve the economy, lest it boost the President's standing--has the potential to backfire," Schumer wrote. "If Republicans continue opposing job-creating measures, they risk being blamed for whatever economic reality the country confronts in 2012. But Democrats must make this case. In the coming weeks, we will."
He added that the Tea Party's growing unpopularity "has the potential to be the GOP's Achilles' Heel."
While polls show voters are unimpressed with the president's attempts to revive the economy, they're even less impressed by the work of Congress. When asked who's to blame for the state of the economy, 12 percent of Americans polled by CBS earlier this month said Mr. Obama, while 15 percent said Congress.
Republicans insist that even though they don't like the president's plan as a whole, they're ready to work with Democrats.
"Our job on behalf of the American people is to find common ground and to do our best for them and we will continue to do that," House Speaker John Boehner said on Wednesday. They've pointed to progress on three long-pending free trade agreements, which are finally moving through Congress, as evidence that Democrats and Republicans can work together.
Rather than making investments in areas like infrastructure and state aid right now, Republicans say Congress should focus on deficit reduction and deregulation to promote job growth.
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