Feature

Another defeat for jobs bill

Republicans blocked a $35 billion proposal to help state governments retain 400,000 teachers, firemen, and police officers.

Congressional Republicans blocked President Obama’s first attempt to pass a piece of his jobs bill this week, using a filibuster to block a $35 billion proposal to help state governments retain 400,000 teachers, firemen, and police officers. The president’s $447 billion jobs package failed to overcome Republican opposition last month, so he’s now submitting it in smaller pieces. But Republicans object to further government spending, and to the 0.5 percent surtax on millionaires that Obama proposed to fund his jobs package. The Republican-led House has introduced an alternative jobs plan to cut the corporate tax rate and slash regulations, but Senate Democrats refuse to bring it to the floor.

With his jobs agenda stymied by Congress, Obama vowed this week to use executive orders to push through some components of his plan, and went on a three-day tour to drum up support. “Where they won’t act, I will,” he said.

Obama may have broken his bill down into chunks, said NationalReview.com in an editorial, but it’s still indigestible. This latest piece was a scheme to hand more taxpayer dollars to public-sector workers—who, let’s not forget, are “reliable Democratic voters”—while doing nothing for struggling businesses.

At least Obama’s plan does something about unemployment, said Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times. Local governments have “hemorrhaged” 210,000 jobs since September 2010, and this bill would have stanched the flow. The GOP plan, on the other hand, is a package of “shibboleths and ideological dog whistles” designed to “eviscerate” environmental regulations and protect corporate profits. Let’s be clear what’s happening here, said James Fallows in TheAtlantic.com. Washington as a whole isn’t dysfunctional; it’s “the Republican strategy” to make sure nothing is done about unemployment, so as to further damage  Obama’s re-election chances. With Senate Republicans using filibusters at a historic pace, 60 votes, and not 51, are needed to get anything through the Senate. Beware: “Democrats would have no reason not to turn the same nihilist approach against the next Republican administration.”

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