White House says Senate Dems' jobs bill is too expensive

The Obama administration on Tuesday night might have thrown a wrench into Senate Democratic plans to pass what they see as a jobs bill — by implying the bill spends too much money.

In a Statement of Administration Policy, the White House said it supports the broad goals of the bill.

"However, the bill would authorize spending levels higher than those requested by the president’s Budget, and the administration believes that the need for smart investments that help America win the future must be balanced with the need to control spending and reduce the deficit," the administration said.

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The Economic Development Revitalization Act, S. 782, would expand the reach of the Public Works and Economic Development Administration (EDA), and increase funding from nearly $300 million in the current year to $500 million a year through 2015. The White House budget proposal recommended an increase to $325 million.

The comment on the price of the bill is likely to be seized upon by Senate Republicans as a further reason to reject it, and could undermine Senate Democrats' effort to build support for it. Earlier in the day, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) told The Hill that he does not support the funding increase.

"This bill is nothing more than another failed stimulus idea that takes money from workers and businesses and gives it to Washington to pick winners and losers," he said. "We've already wasted hundreds of billions of tax dollars on a misguided stimulus that left us with record high unemployment, and we don't need to repeat the mistake."

On Tuesday morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) defended the idea of boosting funds significantly for the EDA, which he said would help create jobs.

"In the last five years we've invested $1.2 billion, creating more than 300,000 jobs," Reid said of the program. "The Republicans are stopping us from moving to it because creating jobs, it appears, is the last thing they care to do."

Reid was referring to DeMint's prior efforts to block the bill. On Tuesday, the Senate agreed to proceed with the EDA legislation after DeMint was assured of an open amendment process for the bill. So far, there has been little debate on the EDA bill itself, and far more discussion about an amendment to delay a rule that would limit debit-card fees, which will be considered Wednesday.