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Senate Democrats plan vote on program for roads, bridges

President Obama's Senate allies said Friday that the next piece of his failed $447 billion jobs measure to go to a vote would be a $60 billion program for roads, bridges and other public works projects.

Like two earlier defeated proposals, this piece figures to be unanimously opposed by Senate Republicans and a few Democrats because of its stimulus-style spending and tax surcharge on the very wealthy. A test vote on the measure will come after the Senate returns from vacation next month.

The legislation would provide an immediate $50 billion investment in roads, bridges and airports, and transit systems. It also would establish a $10 billion bank to leverage private and public capital for longer-term infrastructure projects.

"This legislation will create hundreds of thousands of construction jobs rebuilding our roads, bridges and infrastructure," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

The measure would be financed by a 0.7 percentage point surcharge on income over $1 million.

The announcement by Senate Democrats came a day after Republicans scuttled a pared-back jobs measure designed to boost hiring of teachers and first responders.

That $35 billion measure combined $30 billion for state and local governments to hire teachers and other school workers with $5 billion to help pay the salaries of police officers, firefighters and other first responders.

The White House said the measure would support almost 400,000 education jobs for one year. Republicans called that a temporary "sugar high" for the economy and said it was a public bailout of state and local governments.

Obama criticized the Senate Republicans for blocking that measure Thursday night.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., countered: "We cannot afford to be bailing out local governments, and we can't afford stimulus 2.0."

An Associated Press-GfK poll taken Oct. 13-17 found 62 percent of respondents favoring the tax surcharge as a way to pay for jobs initiatives, while 26 percent opposed the idea.

"Hopefully, maybe, after they take another recess, Senate Republicans will hear from their constituents, come back with a different attitude about what this economy needs right now," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday.

More ominously for Democrats, however, the poll shows that Obama's party has lost the faith of the public on handling the economy. Only 38 percent said they trust Democrats to do a better job than Republicans in handling the economy, the first time Democrats have fallen below 40 percent in the poll. About 43 percent trust the Republicans more.

"The fact is we're not going to get this economy going again by growing the government. It's the private sector that's ultimately going to drive this recovery," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.

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