Senate Dems calling for new infrastructure package

Alec Jacobs Contributor
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A growing chorus of Senate Democrats is calling on President Obama to work harder to improve the economy, and some have started to discuss the possibility of a new infrastructure package.

Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, thinks the package, which would be funded by tax increases, has the potential to lower the unemployment rate by two points.

Of course, the political viability of such a package is iffy. Republicans would use the package to reinforce the notion that Democrats are too quick to raise taxes, and the chances of passing a bill through a Republican-controlled house are close to zero.

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West Virginia Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, recognized the politics of the situation, but told The Hill he and his colleagues were prepared to be much more aggressive than Democrats have been in recent months. “As soon as [the Republicans] say ‘We’re not going to do that,’ as they’ve been saying for so long about so many things, you just kind of say ‘Oh.’ We’ve got to stop saying ‘oh.’”

Harkin and Rockefeller are being joined by a number of more moderate Democrats in their calls for an infrastructure package. North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad wants to end special tax breaks for oil companies to the tune of $1.1 trillion, and use some of that money for the package.

Though Harkin admitted a bill “would never get through the House of Representatives,” Rockefeller insisted it was necessary. “There’s no other way to get at this problem,” he said.