President Obama's jobs bill may be going nowhere in Congress, but it is certainly being loud about it. Senate Democrats are refusing to let the political talking point go by scheduling floor votes on individual pieces of the measure for Republicans to shoot down. This week and next, the jobs debate will focus on infrastructure investment. Politically, it's a good move. People want potholes fixed and roads built, and polls show that they are generally willing to pay a little extra to make that happen.
(I wrote about the jobs and infrastructure message last week.)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has given Republicans a ready excuse to vote against an infrastructure bill that, in less austere times, might be hard to oppose. To pay for the $50 billion in transportation spending and $10 billion infrastructure bank proposals, Reid has added a small tax for millionaires. Republicans oppose the millionaire tax on principle and will have no problem rejecting the bill for that reason alone.
All this will bluster will be happening on the Senate floor the week of Oct. 31, as the Environment and Public Works Committee is marking up a bipartisan two-year transportation bill. There will be fewer fireworks in the committee meeting than on the Senate floor, even though the committee's passage of the two-year bill will represent a more significant step toward updating the country's transportation funding system.
How does the recurring political theme of infrastructure and jobs play in to the debate over surface transportation funding? Where will the Democrats' infrastructure jobs campaign have more impact, in politics or policy? Are there broader economic themes that can surface as a result of this debate? Does the millionaire tax change the conversation?