Dianne Feinstein says Obama infrastructure plan won’t pass Senate

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that the next provision up for a vote from President Obama’s jobs package was urgently needed but gave it long odds for passage in the Senate next week, citing Congress’ highly polarized atmosphere.

The measure, which would provide money for hiring workers to repair aging bridges and roads, is not likely to get the 60 votes needed to end debate and pass it, Feinstein said during a wide-ranging luncheon appearance at Town Hall Los Angeles.

Pollster Mark Baldassare of the Public Policy Institute of California posed questions to the state’s senior senator on such diverse topics as the economy, tax reform and the “Occupy” movement of protesters camped out in several major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles.

Feinstein blamed what she called “outliers,” people on the extreme right and extreme left who are not interested in compromise, which she said was the only way to get things done in Washington.


She said tea party members are holding the Republican leadership captive and rendering House Speaker John A. Boehner and others unable to forge solutions to some of the nation’s most pressing problems, including its sluggish economy.

She told the luncheon audience of about 220 in downtown Los Angeles that she favored many of the elements of a tax reform proposal formulated by former Bill Clinton aide Erskine Bowles and former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, particularly its calling for collapsing the current six federal tax brackets into three and the elimination of many of the itemized deductions. She would keep the mortgage interest deduction and some others.

She said the Bowles-Simpson proposal would allow the federal government to collect about the same, or perhaps slightly more, revenue and would be simpler and fairer than the current structure because “everybody would pay something,” with the wealthy paying a higher proportion of their incomes than others.