Senate Democratic leaders tweaked President Obama’s American Jobs Act Wednesday in an effort to shore up support in their caucus, but as of now they lack at least one critical vote from Connecticut independent Sen. Joe Lieberman.
In a press conference Wednesday morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, flanked by Sens. Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin, announced they will be proposing a five percent surtax on millionaires to pay for Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill.
“It’s perfectly fair to ask those making a million or more — the top one percent — to give back their tax breaks so we can invest in our country’s future,” Schumer said.
The White House had proposed ending a range of tax breaks and deductions to offset the cost of the bill. However, Schumer said there was no problem with the change.
“We’ve consulted with the White House, and they’re fine with the idea,” he said. “The president welcomes alternate ways to pay for it.”
To pass the Senate, Obama’s jobs bill will need the support of all Senate Democrats and, seeing to that, at least seven Republican votes. However, Lieberman is a “no” vote right now with either the surtax or offsets on the table.
An aide to Lieberman said that if the jobs bill comes to a vote paid for by either the president’s proposed offsets or an increase in taxes on people earning more than $1 million, the senator will vote against it.
However, Lieberman would vote for a surcharge such as Reid’s, if it were accompanied by a comprehensive debt reduction agreement to be phased in over the next decade, the aide said.
Several other Democratic senators have expressed reservations about the bill in the past month.
Sen. Jim Webb has said he has serious concerns over raising taxes on earned income and has floated other ways to raise revenues, such as closing certain tax loopholes and ending ethanol subsidies. However, an aide to Webb said the Senator will wait until actual legislation is offered before reviewing the proposals.
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has objected to the spending portion of the bill, and Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson has said he would oppose any tax increase given the state of the economy.