Oct 022011
Authors: David Lightman McClatchy-Tribune

WASHINGTON –– Congress is highly unlikely to approve the massive jobs package that President Barack Obama has been pushing relentlessly from coast to coast, day after day, for almost a month.

Republicans don’t like its proposed tax increases. Some Democrats are reluctant to endorse another cut in Social Security taxes; others are wary of oil and gas tax hikes. And Obama’s low approval ratings, the most dismal of his presidency, are making it hard for him to build any momentum.

When Capitol Hill lawmakers return Monday from a weeklong break, the first order of business in the Democratic-run Senate won’t be the president’s $447 billion jobs package _ despite his daily demands to pass it now, but legislation dealing with Chinese currency manipulation.

“We’ll get to that,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said of the jobs plan, which he says he supports. “But let’s get some of these things done that we have to get done first.”

In the House of Representatives, the Republican majority won’t accept Obama’s proposed tax increases.

“I can’t really make sense of why the president thinks he should be doing this,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.

The president introduced his economic rescue plan to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 8, an unusual forum for launching such an initiative. Since then, he’s traveled the country and given interviews to local news media insisting on its quick approval.

The package includes aid for cities and towns, help for school and road construction projects, Social Security payroll tax cuts and assistance for the long-term unemployed. A series of tax increases, notably limiting tax deductions for the wealthy, would offset the cost of the measure.

Press secretary Jay Carney said last week that the White House wants the plan to pass intact, but he also said Obama was prepared to accept only pieces of it being enacted.

The plan, though, has become the latest chapter in a vicious political struggle that’s raged since Obama became president in January 2009.

He’s gotten virtually no Republican support for any of his major initiatives. In the last six months, partisan budget disagreements have twice created threats of partial government shutdowns and nearly caused a historic government default on its debt.

Despite talk from GOP leaders that they hope to find common ground on jobs _ talk that hasn’t resulted in any serious negotiations with Democrats _ Republicans see opposing Obama as good politics.

“The Republicans have no stake in handing the president a victory in the next 12 months,” said Gary Jacobson, a congressional expert at the University of California San Diego.

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