Jobs bill looks dead for now

The Senate version of a bill designed to create jobs, support state budgets and extend various tax credits and benefit programs failed to overcome a Republican filibuster yesterday. Although 56 members of the Democratic caucus voted for the cloture motion (which would end debate on the bill), Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut voted with all the Republicans present to kill it (roll call here). Joan McCarter observed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

voted yes, without changing his vote, signaling that this iteration of the bill is indeed dead.

Reid followed the vote by attempting to pass the emergency provisions of the bill, the "doc fix," unemployment benefits extension, and FMAP as well as the homebuyer tax credit, as separate bills under unanimous consent. McConnell objected to each, so we're stuck in further limbo.

Extending unemployment benefits should be a no-brainer when the percentage of unemployed Americans who have been out of work for more than six months is higher "than at any time since the government began keeping track in 1948." Without the "doc fix," medical providers' reimbursements for Medicare patients stand to drop about 20 percent. FMAP stands for Federal Medical Assistance Percentage funding, relating to federal government reimbursements for part of each state’s Medicaid spending. The 2009 stimulus bill temporarily raised FMAP payments for states during the recession, with larger increases going to states with higher unemployment rates. Failing to extend this provision will put state budgets under further strain for the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years.

Republicans who blocked this bill claim we should not be adding to the federal deficit. A spokesman for GOP enabler Ben Nelson laid out his views here. Ezra Klein pointed out a few glaring problems with the analysis: the federal budget can't start approaching balance with unemployment at 9 percent, polls show Americans are much more concerned about jobs than the deficit, and the current rate of economic recovery is "far, far too slow to really dent unemployment." Meanwhile, the same senators who claim to oppose adding to the deficit also oppose rolling back tax cuts or tax loopholes for the wealthy in order to pay for extending unemployed benefits, state fiscal aid and tax credits.

I share John Aravosis' view that it was a terrible mistake for President Barack Obama to talk tough about reducing the deficit earlier this year. As Aravosis writes,

[T]he President didn't want to blame Bush and the GOP for the deficit, and he didn't want to sufficiently defend the stimulus and explain to people that they had a choice between a Great Depression and a bigger deficit. [...] If the public understood that the deficit was a) mostly caused by Bush, and b) not nearly as important as staving off a Depression and creating jobs, the GOP would be facing far more pressure not to launch these filibusters at all.

Perhaps no jobs bill passed this week would alter the economy enough to affect the November elections, but if we accept current unemployment levels and don't pass additional fiscal aid to the states, the economy may still be very weak leading up to the 2012 election.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread. From where I'm sitting, the case for filibuster reform has never looked stronger.

Tags: jobs, jobs bill, unemployment, Congress, Senate, Economy (all tags)



Whatever happened to Evan Bayh's promise that LIEberman would be a reliable vote?

Seriously, that 60 supermajority we had was useless. It didn't matter that we lost that supermajority. Couldn't get much passed back then. Can't get it now.

Has anyone tried living on unemployment? It's not exactly good vacation pay.

by Pravin 2010-06-18 09:56AM | 1 recs
RE: Whatever happened to Evan Bayh's promise that LIEberman would be a reliable vote?

That big tent paying dividends again...

by TheUnknown285 2010-06-21 10:14AM | 0 recs
No doc fix

The Democrats pulled the doc fix out of their health care bill because they thought the budget couldn't take the price tag. They should live with the health care bill they passed. After all, Speaker Pelosi assured us that we would like the bill, once we found out what was in it. That includes, I assume the 21% cut in Medicare reimbursements and resulting decision of health care providers to stop accepting Medicare patients.

by hwc 2010-06-18 09:49PM | 0 recs
RE: No doc fix

One of many big mistakes in that bill. Too much focus on keeping the 10-year price tag down, not enough focus on passing a bill that would solve the problems.

by desmoinesdem 2010-06-19 12:48AM | 0 recs
Why not redirect 2011 stimulus funds to pay for this?

That way it will be paid for.  Why wont Democrats just do this?

by Kent 2010-06-18 10:57PM | 0 recs
St. Ronnie


didn't the patron saint of the republican party tell us that deficits don't matter?


by Greydog 2010-06-19 04:36AM | 0 recs

I'm wondering why it wasn't used in a bill so critical to the Democrat's chances in November.  Someone please explain why reconciliation wasn't possible.

by esconded 2010-06-19 07:22PM | 0 recs


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