By Alexander Bolton - 09/15/11 09:03 PM EDT
Senior administration officials met with Senate Democrats for an hour and a half on Thursday to answer their complaints about President Obama’s jobs bill.
Democratic lawmakers voiced objections to several of the president’s proposals to pay for the $447 billion stimulus package, including an elimination of tax breaks for the oil-and-gas industry.
Plouffe said officials hope to “convince the American people this is the right way to go to create jobs [and] convince as many Democrats here as we can.”
“I think the vast majority of them are excited about it,” Plouffe said after the meeting.
Sen. Mark BegichMark BegichRyan's victory trumps justice reform opponents There is great responsibility being in the minority Senate GOP deeply concerned over Trump effect MORE (D-Alaska) pointedly told Plouffe and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, who also attended the meeting, that the administration is wrong to target the revenues of oil-and-gas companies.
“I want a broader sweep on tax reform. Just picking out one industry is not acceptable,” Begich said after the meeting.
Senate Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Charles SchumerCharles SchumerOvernight Tech: Tech pushes for debate spotlight | Disney may bid for Twitter | Dem seeks Yahoo probe Saudis hire lobbyists amid 9/11 fight Consumer bureau remains partisan target after Wells Fargo settlement MORE (D-N.Y.), who hosted the meeting, downplayed the differences between Democrats and the administration.
Schumer said Plouffe and Sperling answered every question asked of them.
“It was informative and we’re on the same page and we’re on the same team,” Schumer said. “People brought up their concerns, which people always have, but it was a great meeting and it shows that we’re unified.
“There were some disagreements on different parts here and there but the overall feeling was that the administration is open to suggestions from members about different policy issues on jobs and strategic ways to deal with jobs,” he added.
Democratic lawmakers have criticized the administration for not doing more to keep them in the loop on policy negotiations and political strategy.
Senate Democrats were incensed in July when news emerged that Obama was on the cusp of striking a grand deficit-reduction bargain with House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerRepublican Study Committee elders back Harris for chairman Dems to GOP: Help us fix ObamaCare The disorderly order of presidential succession MORE (R-Ohio) that would have cut Medicare.
Obama’s plans to pay for the jobs bill, which he unveiled this week, met a cool reception from some Senate Democrats.
Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) has said Congress should not increase taxes on ordinary income, calling the idea terrible.
Obama would pay for his plan by limiting itemized deductions for wealthy individuals and families and increasing taxes on hedge fund managers, in addition to eliminating tax breaks for oil-and-gas companies.
Sen. Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuLouisiana needs Caroline Fayard as its new senator La. Senate contender books seven-figure ad buy Crowded field muddies polling in Louisiana Senate race MORE (D-La.) has also come out strongly opposed to higher taxes on the oil industry.
Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiThis week: Shutdown deadline looms over Congress Week ahead: Key court date for climate rule; Fight over Flint aid Week ahead: Spending fight shifts from Zika to Flint MORE (D-Md.) has balked at the idea of raising taxes on the health benefits of high-income earners.
Mikulski appeared unconvinced after meeting with senior administration officials, but declined to discuss the “specifics” of her concerns.
“We’re all trying to figure out the answers to my questions, particularly the pay-fors,” she said.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellShutdown risk grows over Flint Senate poised to override Obama veto Overnight Finance: Four days left to avert shutdown | Conservative group bucks spending bill | Lawmakers play catch-up on smartphone banking MORE (R-Ky.) said Thursday morning that Obama should abandon his jobs plan, given bipartisan opposition.
“The White House probably expected stronger support from Democrats than it’s gotten so far,” McConnell said. “After all, this bill’s top selling point, according to the president, was both parties should like it. Yet, so far, the only thing both parties in Congress seem to agree on is that there’s got to be a better way.
“It seemed like the only Democrats who were even willing to talk about it here on Capitol Hill were tearing it apart,” he said.