Okay, someone had better ‘fess up. Democrats lost a House seat in New York City, Barack Obama dropped below majority job approval in California, and now Senate Democrats are attacking Obama’s proposal to raise taxes to pay for Porkulus II: Economic Boogaloo. Did we flip over to the Terran Empire last night? And why do I have a goatee?
As he demands Congress quickly approve his ambitious proposal aimed at reviving the sagging economy, many Democrats on Capitol Hill appear far from sold that the president has the right antidote to spur major job growth and turn around their party’s political fortunes.
“Terrible,” Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) told POLITICO when asked about the president’s ideas for how to pay for the $450 billion price tag. “We shouldn’t increase taxes on ordinary income. … There are other ways to get there.”
“That offset is not going to fly, and he should know that,” said Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu from the energy-producing Louisiana, referring to Obama’s elimination of oil and gas subsidies. “Maybe it’s just for his election, which I hope isn’t the case.”
“I think the best jobs bill that can be passed is a comprehensive long-term deficit-reduction plan,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), discussing proposals to slash the debt by $4 trillion by overhauling entitlement programs and raising revenue through tax reforms. “That’s better than everything else the president is talking about — combined.”
And those are just the moderates in the party. Some liberals also have concerns.
The concern that liberals have is mainly about extending the temporary payroll-tax cut, and they have a point. That reduces the amount of revenue flowing into an already-teetering Social Security system in an effort to make up the difference by fueling economic growth. Unfortunately, that didn’t actually work, because the tax relief was temporary and too small to boot. Extending the cut may sound good to workers and to Republicans who like tax cuts in principle, but it’s the same kind of short-term gimmickry that has characterized Obamanomics all along. And it makes Social Security that much more difficult to fix in any reform effort, too.
It’s also interesting to note that both Webb and Landrieu aren’t facing voters next year. Webb’s seat is up but Webb won’t be defending it; Landrieu won her last election in 2008 and won’t have to defend the seat until 2014. Carper comes from as safe a state for a Democrat as can be found, so while he has to campaign for re-election in 2012, he’s not going to be terribly concerned about his chances in deep-blue Delaware — unless the 2012 election turns into such a bloodbath that no Democrat is safe.
And if these relatively safe Democrats are bailing on the jobs bill, or at least its pay-fors, then what can we expect from endangered Democrats like Ben Nelson (NE), Claire McCaskill (MO), Bill Nelson (FL), or even Bob Casey (PA), whose state went all Republican in 2010? Obama wants to paint House Republicans as obstructionists so that he can make the do-nothing Congress argument in 2012, but that strategy will fail spectacularly if his own party refuses to consider the bill in the Senate. If that happens, the only Barack Obama serving a second term in office will have a goatee.
Update: I put Ben Nelson in twice. Initially when I wrote this, I almost put Bill Nelson in twice.