By Mike Lillis - 09/09/11 02:21 PM EDT
House Democratic leaders on Friday said they’ll push for Congress to take up President Obama’s jobs plan in one, huge package.
House Republicans — and even some Senate Democrats — have warned that there’s not enough time left in the year to consider such a comprehensive and controversial package. They’re suggesting congressional leaders isolate the less-contentious parts of the plan — the low-hanging fruit that lawmakers could pass quickly for the sake of creating jobs and bolstering the public’s confidence in Congress.
“The public perceives that as kicking the can down the road and not stepping up,” Larson said Friday during a short news briefing. “[Obama’s] got a plan. He’s laid it out there. What is the problem with voting it up or down?
“What, will we have to stay in [Washington] a little bit longer?” Larson challenged. “The time to act is now.”
Pressed on which piece of Obama’s jobs package Congress should consider independently if opposition to the comprehensive bill grows too strong, Larson was more terse.
“Infrastructure,” he said. “Take it right to the floor tomorrow.”
Even that strategy, however, would be a tough sell with Republicans, who are open to new infrastructure spending but are insisting that it be offset with cuts in other areas.
In his Thursday night speech before a joint session of Congress, Obama emphasized that all of his job-creation plans — tax cuts and new spending, alike — would be offset with changes elsewhere in the budget.
“Everything in this bill will be paid for,” he said. “Everything.”
But among the offsets Obama is eying are cuts to Medicare and Medicaid (unpopular with Democrats) and tax hikes on wealthy Americans (anathema to Republicans). With that in mind, even those job-creation strategies with bipartisan support will be a tough sell when the debate moves to how to pay for them.
The House Democrats are meeting as a caucus Friday morning in the Capitol, where Gene Sperling, director of the U.S. National Economic Council, will brief members on Obama’s jobs plan.
Larson said Sperling “can expect every question imaginable under the sun.”