(Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Did President Obama do his party a political favor by proposing $50 billion in new transportation infrastructure spending to a budget-weary nation right before the November midterms? Was his labor day infrastructure plan an effort to allow struggling Democrats to distance themselves?
At least one vulnerable Democrat under fire for supporting the president’s first $787 billion stimulus plan now says he’s not on board for any more. And just like that, Sen. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) has put a little distance between himself and a White House sagging in the polls.
“I will not support additional spending in a second stimulus package. Any new transportation initiatives can be funded through the Recovery Act, which still contains unused funds,” Bennett said in a statement released Wednesday.
Bennett was appointed to his Senate seat when then-Senator Ken Salazar became Interior Secretary. Bennett is running for the first time to claim the seat for a full term and trailing GOP candidate Ken Buck by 9 percentage points, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conduced August 20-22.
One of the main lines of attack against Bennett is that he backs excessive government spending. Exhibit A, according to Bennett’s critics, is the stimulus package.
“Bennet has a record of rubberstamping almost every spending measure that his party and the special interests have put before him, resulting in $13 trillion of debt and millions of jobs lost,” Buck said in a statement of his own on Wednesday.
Now Bennett seems to have been given the chance to ‘say no’ to more White House spending plans.
“We must make hard choices to significantly reduce the deficit,” his statement says.
How many more imperiled Democrats will take this chance to put some daylight between themselves and President Obama by opposing his $50 billion transportation plan? Stay tuned.