Senior Senate Democrats are growing frustrated by what they see as President Obama’s passivity on the economy, and are beginning to discuss a large infrastructure package funded by tax increases. But the plan is not without political risk — Republicans would be quick to slap Democrats with the old “tax-and-spend liberals” label. And the prospect of passing such a plan through the GOP-led House of Representatives — where conservative freshmen hold significant clout — is slim.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, endorsed Harkin’s argument for more infrastructure spending, and said it is gaining support in the broader caucus. “There’s very broad support,” Rockefeller said. “There’s no other way to get at this problem.” Rockefeller said a spending package was discussed at several meetings Wednesday and that there’s a recognition Democrats need to be tougher in negotiations with Republicans.
Let's see. Our national debt has rocketed past $14.3 Trillion, and is increasing so rapidly that raising the debt ceiling is -- once again -- an imminent necessity. This year's budget deficit is roughly $1.6 Trillion. When Democrats in Congress voted to spend $862 Billion in borrowed money to prop up the economy in the wake of the financial collapse of 2008, we were promised this "stimulus" would "save or create" millions of jobs, fund countless "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects, and halt unemployment at eight percent. Without the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we were warned, unemployment could creep as high as nine percent. Where do we stand today? We arguably saved millions of jobs, while losing millions more. The labor force has constricted considerably. Mounds of slush fund money went to waste (and worse), as shovel-ready projects were scarcer than suggested (leading to some curious political re-positioning). And, of course, unemployment stands at 9.1 percent -- without even mentioning discouraged workers or the under-employed.
So now Senate Democrats -- who've introduced absolutely nothing in the way of a budget blueprint to reform entitlements and extricate the country from this mess -- are offering "broad support" for an innovative new plan: More spending -- paid for by tax increases, natch. The article clipped above worries that Republicans might "slap" the "old" tax-and-spend label on Democrats if they try to advance their predictable scheme. Republicans don't have to do any such thing. Democrats all but tattooed that phrase across their foreheads long ago.