The Democrats said they would prefer to see new spending on roads, bridges and other transportation projects; new investment in green energy; or additional resources for job training to show that the party is working to create jobs and lower the nation’s 9 percent unemployment rate.
They said they would also accept a payroll tax cut for employers, an idea recently floated by the White House.
The Democrats’ call came on the same day that conservative advocacy groups asked Republicans to sign a pledge saying that they vow to vote against an increase in the $14.3 trillion debt limit without sharp and immediate spending cuts, new caps on annual spending and an amendment to the Constitution that would require Congress to balance the budget.
Ten Republicans in the Senate and 10 in the House have signed the pledge, which would preclude the possibility of new spending on the economy next year.
“Politicians of all stripes, Democrats and Republicans, have spent this country to the brink of insolvency,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who said he would not vote to raise the debt ceiling without winning a balanced-budget amendment.
As negotiators race to produce a bipartisan compromise before an Aug. 2 deadline, the proliferation of demands suggests that any deal could face significant obstacles on the road to final passage. In both the House and the Senate, Republicans and Democrats are splintering into a bewildering array of factions and issuing ultimatums that cannot all be met.
In the Senate, for example, a bipartisan group is pushing for a far more ambitious deal to reduce the debt. That group — led by Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) — is considering withholding its votes for a long-term debt-limit increase unless it sees far more than the $2 trillion in savings that has been the goal of the Biden talks.
Meanwhile, the no-taxes message of the Republican Party was underscored Wednesday by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who ruled out any revenue increase — even if it came through closing tax loopholes — as part of the talks. Noting that Democrats did not raise taxes on millionaires last year, when they controlled both chambers of Congress, McConnell decreed that a tax increase was even less likely now that Republicans control the House.
“They couldn’t even get that done when they owned the government. . . . So, look, taxes aren’t going to be raised,” McConnell told reporters at a breakfast held by the Christian Science Monitor.