House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Democrats are enthusiastic about the jobs plan that President Obama rolled out last week, even as some of them are expressing hesitation about aspects of the $447 billion package.
“Let me just say that what you are suggesting is anecdotal,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at her weekly news conference when asked about the Democratic lawmakers who openly criticizing parts of the jobs plan.
“The plural of anecdote is not data,” she added. “There may be somebody that’s told you or spoken out about this, but our caucus is very unified in support of the American Jobs Act and the fact that it paid for. They may differ with some of provisions within in or the pay-fors, but they do not differ in the fact that we must get behind it, we must pass it -- not for us, but for the American people. They need jobs now and want the American Jobs Bill passed now.”
More than 40 House Democrats, including all of the House Democratic leadership as well as several dozen mostly liberal members, gathered on the East Front steps of the Capitol late Wednesday afternoon to rally support for the jobs plan. But hours earlier, Democrats at several news conferences criticized parts of the proposal, which Obama unveiled last week before a joint session of Congress.
Six members of the Blue Dog Coalition, a caucus of conservative House Democrats, said at a Capitol news conference on debt reduction that they had yet to take a position on the proposed pay-fors that the White House unveiled Monday evening.
“Obviously we’re still seeing the details as they’re rolled out,” said Rep. Mike Ross (R-Ark.), a co-chairman of the group. “We’re waiting to see it all and have a chance to review it. I think he’s rolling out more of the pay-fors in the next few days.”
And at a news conference on Social Security on Wednesday, several liberal House and Senate members – among them Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) -- said that while they supported Obama’s jobs package overall, they disagreed on certain aspects of it, such as extending the payroll tax cut.
The legislation sent to Capitol Hill on Monday night outlines the White House’s plan for funding the $447 billion proposal by closing tax loopholes for oil and gas companies, capping deductions for higher earners and other actions. But the bill also states that if the 12-member debt supercommittee can exceed its target of $1.2 trillion in deficit savings over the next 10 years by $450 billion, the pay-fors stipulated by the White House would be waived.
Pelosi said Thursday that, ultimately, it’s up to the debt panel to decide how to pay for the jobs plan.
“The president has offered his pay-for,” she said, “and there may be others, but the fact is without economic growth and job creation, it’s a long road to reducing the deficit. So it should be there as the centerpiece of the table of 12 with cuts, revenue, but central to it all, the creation of jobs.”
The debt committee’s final proposal will have to pass both chambers of Congress before the end of the year if it is to make its way to the president’s desk.