Politics
President Barack Obama holds out his hands upon arrival at King County International Airport/Boeing Field, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011, in Seattle, Wash. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) President Barack Obama holds out his hands upon arrival at King County International Airport/Boeing Field, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011, in Seattle, Wash. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)  

Abandon ship? Dick Durbin, Warren Buffett change tone on jobs plan

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

White House spokesman Jay Carney today downplayed statements by two political allies who are backing away from President Barack Obama’s top legislative priority, his $447 billion “American Jobs Act.

Obama ally and stock market billionaire Warren Buffett backed away from the “Buffet Rule” tax increase Friday. And one day before, top Senate Democrat Dick Durbin said his Democratic Senate majority doesn’t yet have the votes to pass the bill.

These top-level former endorsers put distance between themselves and the White House as wealthy Americans and many Democratic-leaning professionals recoil from what they see as President Obama’s anti-business attitude, and as the general public’s distrust of government reaches record levels. (RELATED: Obama implores trust in government as trust slides)

The Buffett and Durbin revelations reveal a major crack in Obama’s increasingly populist re-election campaign, which is characterized by his repeated calls on Congres to “pass the bill.” Durbin’s apparent differences with the White House come as Roll Call reports that communication has broken down between the Obama administration and Senate Democrats.

The bill ultimately aids his campaign by simultaneously offering massive government spending to left-wing special interests and a smaller deficit to swing-voting middle-income professionals and executives.

Sen. Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said Thursday that the jobs bill doesn’t have enough support among Senate Democrats to reach the 60 votes needed to overcome Republican opposition. “Not at the moment, I don’t think we do but, uh, we can work on it,” he told an interviewer on WLS radio.

“The oil-producing [Democratic] senators don’t like eliminating or reducing the subsidy for oil companies … [and] there are some senators who are up for [re-]election who say ‘I’m never gonna vote for a tax increase while I’m up for election, even on the wealthiest people,’” said Durbin, a senior senator in the Democratic Caucus.

“So, we’re not gonna have 100 percent Democratic senators. That’s why it needs to be bipartisan and I hope we can find some Republicans who will join us to make it happen,” he said.

The public is not interested in “who’s sponsoring [the bill or] the legislative minutia of who supports it,” Carney responded when asked about Durbin’s statement. The bill “has broad Democratic support … it has broad public support, across the political spectrum,” he said, adding “we’re working on [passing] it, and we’re going to get it” passed.

“There is no higher priority for this president to continue to push Congress to take action on those measures,” Carney said.