Washington (CNN) - Senate Democrats Tuesday staunchly defended their decision to include a tax increase in a bill designed to prevent teachers and firefighters from getting laid off, even though they know the revenue hike is a poison pill for most Republicans and some Democrats making it highly unlikely the measure will pass.
"The choice is very stark with our colleagues across the aisle," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said at a news conference. "Do you want to employ teachers and firefighters or do you want to protect those who earn over a million dollars a year from paying a small amount more in taxes."
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The legislation, which is likely to face a Senate vote later this week, is one component of President Obama's controversial jobs package. It would provide $35 billion to states to prevent layoffs of teachers and first responders. It includes a half-percent (.5) surtax on incomes over $1 million to offset its cost.
Asked why Democrats aren't seeking a compromise approach to pay for the legislation, in order to win GOP support and actually get the money approved, Schumer argued that Democrats have compromised again and again with Republicans over the tax issue and it's time Republicans to do "what's fair."
"We've cut spending dramatically. We have not raised revenues a nickel," Schumer said.
On the Senate floor, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky blasted the latest approach to passing the president's jobs bill. He said approving a "bailout" for states to pay for teachers and firefighters hasn't worked in the past to turn the economy around and won't work this time either.
"It's perfectly obvious why the president would find the path of division appealing – because on the number one issue we face, jobs and the economy, the president's policies haven worked as advertised," McConnell said.
"He wants people to think that the problem isn't his policies. It's those mean Republicans in Congress who oppose them," he said.
Schumer took offense to the term "bailout."
"I guess we're talking in totally different languages," said Schumer who pointed to polls that appear to show broad public support for the funding. "Most Americans – 75% - don't consider this a bailout."
At the Democratic news conference in the Capitol, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, spoke emotionally about the positive impact teachers had on him as a youth. He grew angry over the prospects of the bill going down because Republicans won't accept a small tax increase on wealthy Americans.
"As part of this process, we are saying there is time for some new revenue for very specific purposes - purposes that the American people overwhelmingly support. Governing is about compromise and negotiation. It seems to me we have compromised a great way towards the Republican view and we have seen no reciprocal compromise," he said.