Plan B on Obama jobs bill is to take it up piecemeal. What will fly?
Parts that deal with tax cuts and transportation projects stand a better chance of getting enough GOP support to pass. Tax-the-rich elements and extra aid to local governments? Probably not.
(Page 2 of 2)
Tuesday's vote showed that Obama’s jobs bill was a nonstarter in the Senate. Republicans opposed it unanimously, and even Democrats were divided about various pieces of the package. Still, it fared better than the president’s fiscal year 2012 budget, which received zero votes in the Senate from either Democrats or Republicans.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Before the vote, Sens. Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia, Jon Tester (D) of Montana, Jim Webb (D) of Virginia, Joseph Lieberman (I) of Connecticut, and Sen. Ben Nelson (D) of Nebraska criticized the jobs bill, some threatening to simply vote it down.
“I know [the jobs bill] was put together with good intentions, but it will cost another half-trillion which we desperately need to reduce our debt, which will create jobs,” said Senator Lieberman in a floor speech before the vote. Still, pressured by Democrats to present a united front, he voted for the bill.
But with US unemployment stuck above 9 percent – 16 percent, counting discouraged workers and involuntary part-timers – doing nothing on jobs is not an option for members of Congress, or the president.
“Tonight’s vote is by no means the end of this fight,” said Obama in a statement after Tuesday's vote. “In the coming days, members of Congress will have to take a stand on whether they believe we should put teachers, construction workers, police officers, and firefighters back on the job.”
Until the Senate defeat, the White House had opposed breaking up the jobs bill. The president’s call for stand-alone votes could be to find consensus or to force Republicans to take tough votes, sharpening a “do nothing Congress” narrative for the 2012 campaign. “With so many Americans out of work and so many families struggling, we can’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” he said.
Meanwhile, Republicans renewed calls to break up the bill, focusing on elements that reduce the size and scope of government and rein in regulations that increase costs or uncertainty for businesses – their own narrative for the 2012 campaign.
“The president sent us a bill that he knew would never be returned to his desk,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R) of Wyoming, vice chairman of the Senate Republican conference, in a statement after the vote. “We need to work together on legislation that will help the private sector create jobs without further breaking Washington’s bank."