House Progressives Gripe That Obama’s Jobs Bill Isn’t Big Enough

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September 13, 2011 9:28 a.m.
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Even as Republicans signaled their opposition to “stimulus”-like measures in the White House’s $447 billion jobs package Tuesday, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are complaining that the bill doesn’t go nearly far enough.

In a Tuesday press conference, caucus leaders unveiled a framework for job creation that included support for more infrastructure investment than President Obama’s own plan includes. As part of the package, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) proposed a $227 billion emergency jobs bill that would aim to create 2.2 million jobs over the next two years. Rep. John Conyers proposed new discussions on how to implement the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act, a wildly optimistic piece of legislation more than 33 years old that calls for wiping out all unemployment in the United States.Though they praised elements of the Obama administration’s plan — such as the proposed temporary extension in benefits for the unemployed — the representatives expressed dismay that Obama wasn’t bolder.

“Most of us here would like something about twice the size of what he proposed,” said Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA).

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) went further, adding, “half a loaf isn’t enough.”

The progressive lawmakers’ proposals stand virtually no chance in Congress. House Republican leaders are already lining up against the Obama administration’s more moderate stimulus measures.

Tuesday morning, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blasted the White House plan, denouncing it as politically motivated. McConnell, who has the votes to stymie legislation, called for Obama to abandon tax hikes on businesses and the wealthy as part of his bill.

“If the president is truly interested in growing the economy and putting Americans back to work, then he’ll leave the temporary proposals and the half-measures — and the tax hikes — aside,” AFP quoted McConnell as saying.

Schakowsky fired back during today’s progressive caucus press conference.

“It’s not surprising to me that Republicans are willing to consider the American Jobs Act except for the part that actually creates jobs,” she said.

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