On the heels of the U.S. Senate's failure to pass the American Jobs Act, both Vice President Joe Biden and Senate minority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have lashed out against their colleagues across the aisle, accusing them of purposely stalling on necessary legislation to keep the economy from improving in a move to ensure that President Barack Obama won't win his bid for re-election in 2012.
During a Democratic rally on Capitol Wednesday, Biden was unable to hold back. The Vice President fierily suggested that Republicans insist on protecting the interests of millionaires at the expense of teachers and even first responders, a dig at the GOPs refusal to pass the American Jobs Act -- which analysts predicted could add 1.9 million jobs next year -- after Democrats announced a plan to pay for it by implementing a 5 percent tax surcharge on incomes of more than $1 million per year.
I don't know where these guys live, said Biden, implying that congressional Republicans cannot relate to the concerns of the average American. Are you going to put 400,000 school teachers back in classrooms, are you going to put 18,000 cops back on the street and 7,000 firefighters back in the firehouses? Or are you going to save people with average incomes of $1 million a one-half of 1 percent increase in tax on every dollar they make over a million?
Democratic leaders have stepped up their criticisms of the GOP since every Senate Republican voted against Obama's jobs plan earlier this month. The administration is currently attempting to pass pieces of the legislation; one measure designates $35 billion in additional funding to protect the jobs of teachers, police officers and firefighters, known as the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act.
Reid: Cuts to Public Sector Hurt
While speaking on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Reid also had plenty to say against members of Congress who have resisted every part of Obama's jobs package. He argued that a loss of government jobs, and not those in the private sector, is what intensified the nation's unemployment crisis.
The massive layoffs we've had in America today are of course rooted in the last administration, Reid said on the Senate floor on Wednesday. It's very clear that private-sector jobs have been doing just fine; it's the public-sector jobs where we've lost huge numbers, and that's what this legislation is all about, Reid said, speaking in support of the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act.
Although Reid was met with attacks from several Republicans who said he was disconnected from reality, his spokesman pointed out to The Hill that Democrats have tried to pass several bills that would spur private sector job creation -- even offering tax cuts to help companies hire workers -- but have been blocked by Republicans each time.
Republicans are blocking all of these proposals to create jobs in the private sector because they care more about defeating President Obama than putting Americans back to work, Reid's spokesman said.
Reid said Senate Democrats are hoping to pass the legislation, which would reportedly save 400,000 teacher jobs as well as thousands of first-responder positions, by Friday.
The Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act has overwhelming public support, according to a recent CNN/ORC poll. In a survey of 1,007 adults, 75 percent of respondents said they supported providing federal money to state governments to allow them to hire teachers and first responders. The same poll found that 76 percent of respondents supported increasing the tax rate for individuals who make more than $1 million a year.