Oct. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Republicans will “pay a price” if they don’t support tax breaks they previously embraced that President Barack Obama included in his $447 billion jobs plan, Senator Dick Durbin said.
“If the Republicans take the current position and hold it, that they’ll do nothing, I think they’ll pay a price for it,” Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, said in an interview airing this weekend on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt.”
The president’s plan would provide local aid to keep teachers, police and firefighters on the job and would provide tax incentives Republicans have supported before, including a payroll tax cut for working families.
Durbin said Republicans may not support saving local government jobs because “many of them are union members.” Yet the tax breaks should attract Republican votes because “that’s their mantra,” he said.
For Obama, seeking re-election at a time of high unemployment, the plan offers voters a choice between his plans “to move our economy forward” or returning to former Republican policies that led to 9.1 percent joblessness, the senator said.
Obama can replicate Harry Truman’s 1948 come-from-behind victory “if the choice is returning to the old Republican ways of President Bush that drove us into deeper deficits and higher unemployment,” Durbin said. He suggested Obama must persuade voters to ask the Republican nominee, “Why should we repeat this movie when we already know the sad ending?”
Bush Tax Cuts
Congress should let Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire next year even if lawmakers also impose a 5 percent surtax on annual incomes of more than $1 million, Durbin said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada offered the millionaire surtax Oct. 5 to win some Democrats’ support as an alternative to Obama’s proposals to finance the plan. The president would cap itemized deductions for high-wage earners and treat carried interest as ordinary income.
“If we don’t bring an end to these Bush tax cuts” then “the deficit picture gets gloomier and gloomier for the next 10 years,” Durbin said.
He predicted that some elements of the jobs package, such as a payroll tax cut for wage earners and tax credits to encourage small-business hiring, will win bipartisan support to pass the Senate.
“There’s hardly a one of them the Republicans have not voted for and endorsed,” Durbin said.
Even with the reluctance of some Democratic senators like Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Joe Manchin of West Virginia to support the measure, Durbin said party members “will provide an overwhelming number of votes in support of the president’s jobs plan.”
“The votes will be there if we can put together a bipartisan coalition,” Durbin said. With a 53-47 Senate majority, Democrats need all their own members’ votes plus seven Republicans to get the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster.
Durbin also challenged Senate Republicans to allow confirmation of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to lead the new U.S. consumer financial protection agency created under last year’s Dodd-Frank law to overhaul banking and credit regulation. Forty-four Senate Republicans said they will block Cordray’s confirmation unless Congress changes the agency’s structure and funding.
‘They Hate It’
Republicans want to change the agency because they “hate it, they wish we hadn’t passed it,” Durbin said. “They want to stop it from coming into being.”
Durbin also defended the Senate’s efforts to pass legislation letting U.S. companies seek duties to compensate for an undervalued Chinese yuan, a measure Obama doesn’t support.
“Most presidents don’t want to be told by Congress ‘this is the agenda we want you to follow,’” the senator said.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio has signaled he won’t allow a vote on the measure in his Republican-controlled chamber. Boehner called the legislation “dangerous” and said it risks triggering a trade war with China.
China’s currency manipulation “has cost us a dramatic number of jobs” and “it’s time for us to take a stand,” Durbin said. He predicted “strong bipartisan support” when the Senate votes on the measure Oct. 11.
--Editors: Laurie Asseo, Justin Blum
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