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DailyKos‘ Joan McCarter reports that when asked about the prospects for the President’s jobs bill, Illinois Senator Dick Durban allowed that there aren’t enough Democratic Senators who can be relied on to pass the bill:

There are some senators who are up for election who say I’m never gonna vote for a tax increase while I’m up for election, even on the wealthiest people. So, we’re not gonna have 100% Democratic senators. That’s why it needs to be bi-partisan and I hope we can find some Republicans who will join us to make it happen.

McCarter notes that Durban does not name names, so she supplies some of the most obvious:

We pretty much know who he’s talking about here: Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, and Claire McCaskill. Maybe Bill Nelson, maybe even Jon Tester, as well.

Get that? Is our Claire McCaskill really one of the votes standing in the way of policies that we elected her to support? Given the content of her recent email, touting an op-ed she wrote for the  Kansas City Star, I’d say it’s hard to tell just where she plans on coming down; it seems to be a little of this and a little of that, amounting to not too much of anything.  

I include the introductory content of her email – minus the op-ed she also includes – below the fold. (The op-ed can be found here.)  You will notice, if you read both, that she’s carefully trying to work both sides of the street, shoveling on the GOP’s favored anti-government, anti-regulation, anti-tax rhetoric, while mentioning some of the jobs bill provisions and other initiatives that liberals can be expected to approve.

McCasill’s quick to endorse ideas meant to appeal to the center-right, like the President’s proposed tax cuts “that have traditionally won bipartisan support,” while she’s down on “big promises” to fix the economy and “unreasonable or untimely regulation” that might “overburden” business. She carefully tries to distance herself from anything that smacks of liberal, progressive or, to put it mildly, comprehensive governmental approaches to fixing our problems:

During this debate, Missourians have heard from politicians on the extreme ends of the spectrum – some shouting that the government can’t do anything and folks should be left on their own, and others shouting that government is the solution and that we can spend our way into a full-blown recovery.

The solutions she explicitly endorses are okay, mostly, if underwhelming. Lots are typical McCaskill, which is to say lots of itty-bitty pecking-at-the-details types of legislation, which, while undeniably useful, are apt to have correspondingly small effects, at least when taken individually in the way she seems to be promoting. She mentions such efforts as consolidating job training programs, combating tariff evasion, etc. She indicates that she will support transportation infrastructure spending, although she does not indicate the extent of her support of the relevant proposals in the President’s jobs bill, nor does she mention support for education infrastructure spending or other important provisions that the President has proposed. In short, McCasikill has produced a genuinely artful exercise in trying not to piss anyone off too terribly much. And we all know the problem with this type of approach, right?

McCarter gets it right when she observes, apropos the supposed obstructionism of these Democratic-lite senators:

How about instead of protecting these senators, leadership leans on them a little harder to get on board with what is probably the key push to save all their hides, including President Obama’s, in 2012: jobs. A little bit of populism, a little bit of taxing the rich, in Nebraska, in Missouri, in Montana, even in Florida, isn’t going to hurt any senator seeking reelection. Not in those states. Of course, there’s always the possibility that some of these senators are more concerned with their big money supporters than the voters.

I personally wouldn’t accuse McCaskill of anything more venal that worrying about the much vaunted outstate conservatism. I will, however, hold her accountable for enabling a destructive GOP narrative when she doesn’t really have to do so. As to what she’s going to do about the jobs bill when push comes to shove, who knows? And aren’t we entitled to know? We pay her salary after all. Same goes for asking whom she expects to please with efforts of this sort. Or, put another way, just whom is she trying to fool?


September 29, 2011


I spent the month of August criss-crossing Missouri to hear directly from Missouri businesses and workers.  They all told me the same thing, that they want to see Washington stop playing politics and get to work on commonsense measures that can get bipartisan agreement.  They don’t want any more big promises.  They want to see those hard-working Missourians struggling in this economy get back on their feet and back to work without losing their homes or ability to feed their family in the process.  They want an economy that is not overburdened by unreasonable or untimely regulation. They want Washington to listen and to focus on helping in ways that actually work.  

Based on what I learned in August, I have introduced bills to crack down on unfair trade practices, and ensure that contracts reserved for small business actually go to small business, and I am working on legislation to consolidate job training programs so that less money gets wasted on administration and more money gets to the businesses and workers who use it.  I am fighting to win a long term extension of transportation funding so we can fix our nation’s crumbling roads and bridges and put thousands of Americans to work in construction.  And I am prepared to work on provisions in the President’s jobs proposal, like tax relief for middle income earners and tax incentives for businesses hiring new employees, that have traditionally won bipartisan support.

With this in mind, and knowing of your interest in the state of our economy, I have included the op-ed I recently published in the Kansas City Star about my trip, which you can read below.


Claire McCaskill

United States Senator

Find McCaskill’s op-ed here