Some very interesting news from Harry Reid’s conference call with reporters just now: Reid confirmed that he will continue to force Senate Republicans to vote again and again on jobs policies that are funded by the popular surtax on millionaires.
Reid announced that the Senate would vote in early November on the next provision in Obama’s jobs bill: The Rebuild America Jobs Act. The plan would create a national infrastructure bank and would invest $50 billion in upgrading highways, rail, and bridges, with the goal of putting thousands of construction workers back on the job, and would be paid for by a 0.7 percent surtax on income in excess of $1 million.
Beyond these specifics, though, what was particularly of interest was that Reid said Republicans would face many more votes on measures funded in this fashion. And he repeatedly argued that Republicans who oppose funding jobs policies this way are at odds with the America people, Republican voters included.
“The Senate GOP has had a love affair for many years now with Grover Norquist — they will not touch any new revenues,” Reid said. “They are not in touch with reality or their own constituents. But they are in touch with Grover Norquist.”
In a particularly interesting moment, reporters repeatedly pressed Reid to explain why he was going to force Republicans to vote this way, given that they have already said they’ll never support raising taxes. (It would be nice to see these reporters question Republicans as aggressively on why they won’t back policies that even GOP voters like, but that’s probably expecting too much.) But Reid refused to give ground, again and again pointing out that the public is on the side of Dems, and against Republicans, on this issue.
“The Republicans in the Senate are the only group of people in America that feel this way,” Reid said, in a reference to their opposition to the millionaire surtax. “Around the country, Democrats, independents, and Republicans support what we’re trying to do.” As it happens, large majorities also support increased infrastructure spending — including of GOP voters.
If the showdown is going to continue over this, as Reid says it will, perhaps it’s time to renew attention to how many millionaires in each state would be impacted by this surtax, which only taxes income over $1 million. It seems like this should be more central to the discussion.
As I noted below, the current dynamic is such that Republicans benefit politically from blocking jobs policies that the American people support. Can this change? As Steve Benen puts it: “The task at hand is communicating who deserves credit for fighting to make things better, and who deserves blame for standing in the way.”
Indeed, there’s really nothing else Dems can do at this point other than continue hammering away at Republicans for obstructing the will of the American people, in hopes of breaking this dynamic.