Democrats Not Getting Jobs, Tax Bills Done; Some Back Senate Filibuster, Break with House Leaders

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 29, 2010 | Go to article overview

Democrats Not Getting Jobs, Tax Bills Done; Some Back Senate Filibuster, Break with House Leaders


Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Democrats' agenda of jobs and tax cuts has begun to lose support within the party's own ranks, even as House and Senate members rush to finish their pre-election business and return home to seek votes for November's midterms.

A last-ditch jobs bill backed by Senate Democrats, designed to punish companies that shift jobs overseas, collapsed in the face of a bipartisan filibuster Tuesday, even as nearly four dozen House Democrats signed a letter breaking with party leaders and urging that at least some of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for higher-income taxpayers be extended past the end of this year.

The moves mark a rocky ending as Congress puts off much of its agenda and seeks to adjourn this week with plans to return after the elections in order to pass spending bills, address the tax cuts and possibly tackle immigration, as well as the Pentagon's don't ask, don't tell policy of gays in the military, and climate-change legislation.

The setbacks also highlight the internal struggle among Democrats over the direction of the U.S. economy and fears among some rank-and-file Democrats that their leaders' policies could hurt chances for a recovery.

Our economy is fragile. We need tax policies that will promote our recovery, the rebellious House Democrats said in their letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Raising taxes on capital gains and dividends could discourage individuals and businesses from saving and investing. We urge you to maintain the current tax rate for both dividend and long-term capital gains taxes.

President Obama continued to fight apathy among Democratic voters, a day after Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said the party's dispirited political base needs to stop whining get out there and look at the alternatives presented by Republicans.

If folks sit on the sidelines, and if Republican leaders in Washington get more votes come this November, then the impact on the lives of Americans, from tax cuts to the strength of our schools to the strength of our economy, will be profound, White House spokesman Bill Burton told reporters traveling with Mr. Obama to a rally at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

But cracks are showing in Democrats' front.

Five members of Democratic Senate caucus - including independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut - voted with Republicans to filibuster their leadership's job bill Tuesday. Among the no votes was Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, who earlier argued the measure would leave U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage.

Senate Republicans were quick to point up the failed Democratic push.

With just three days left in the Democrats' two-year experiment in expanded government, they want to make a good last impression with a bill that they know has no chance of passing and which they have no interest in passing, said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican. This is about as pure a political exercise as you can get. …

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