"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Dems Fail To Get Votes On Partisan Stimulus, Then Filibuster Bipartisan Proposal To Help Job Creators

October 21st, 2011 by mopns · No Comments


Politico writes today, “President Barack Obama’s jobs agenda hit another roadblock in the Senate on Thursday night . . . . In their first attempt to advance individual pieces of the president’s sprawling American Jobs Act, Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to move forward a $35 billion package for states and localities to hire and prevent the layoffs of teachers and first responders. A united GOP Conference, along with three members of the Senate Democratic Caucus — Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) — voted 50-50 to block a debate on the package, which would have been funded by a 0.5 percent surtax on those earning more than $1 million. ‘It seems all we care about is scoring political points to be used in the next election,’ said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). ‘Shame on us if the blame game is the best thing that we can do.’

And though only 3 Senate Democrats voted against taking up this stimulus bill that the president and vice president spent all week promoting, a number of Democrats declared their opposition to the bill itself. Speaking on the Senate floor, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said, “We’ve already had two rounds of stimulus funding. This is our third… We only created 33 new jobs the first round [of stimulus] with over $217 million… We have to be responsible, and basically if spending money would fix our problems in America, we’d have no problems.” Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) said, “I’m all for individual states making smart choices with their own money, but giving them federal money and just hoping they’ll use it for education and teachers — well, that’s not good enough.” Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) also announced his opposition to the bill and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) “said she was not convinced that the overall bill was ‘the right way forward.’” As Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) told Fox News, “[W]hen you look at the president’s jobs act, even if you break it down to bite-sized pieces, it’s spending money we don’t have, and you got to raise taxes to pay for it, and to me, all that just makes the job of the debt reduction committee, the committee itself, even harder.” He added, “Our economy needs a jolt. Paying for more state jobs is not going to be that jolt.”

Meanwhile, Republicans tried to move forward with one of the few bipartisan proposals that could actually help job creators from President Obama’s stimulus bill. In a floor speech last night, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell explained, “[W]hat we’ve done is we’ve combed through the President’s latest stimulus bill looking for things we can actually support, for things that don’t punish the very people we’re counting on to create jobs. In other words, since the President never asked if there was anything in this legislation we could support, we’ve done it ourselves. And it turns out there’s a very sensible provision in there that would help businesses across the country. In fact, it’s identical to a bill Senator [Scott] Brown introduced with 30 co-sponsors earlier this year, many of them Democrats: Senator Begich, Senator Klobuchar, Senator Pryor, Senator Tester, Senator Franken and Senator McCaskill—they’re all co-sponsors of Senator Brown’s bill.”

“What this bill does,” Leader McConnell said, “is it repeals an existing requirement that government agencies at the state, local, and federal level withhold three percent of every payment to any contractor they do business with. This is money contractors may very well end up getting back from the IRS at some point long after the job is done, but in the meantime, the government gets to hold on to it instead of allowing the businesses to invest it in jobs and the economy. This is money these companies could be putting toward hiring workers and growing their businesses, but it’s going to the IRS instead, basically as a zero-interest loan to the federal government in Washington.”

And yet Senate Democrats filibustered the bill, even though White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said of the provisions in President Obama’s stimulus, “they’re all important, they’re all of equal value.” The AP noted, “The legislation failed to get the 60 votes needed to end a Democratic filibuster late Thursday. Many Democrats and President Barack Obama support the idea but opposed it Thursday because it would be paid for with $30 billion in cuts from domestic agency spending. The White House promised a veto.”

In sum, last night, Senate Democrat leaders filibustered one of the few provisions in President Obama’s proposal that has bipartisan support and would have removed a burdensome government requirement, and couldn’t get the votes for a partisan stimulus bill they were championing that spent even more federal money on local government workers. As Leader McConnell said yesterday, “[I]t’s become increasingly clear to many Americans that Democrats in Washington have lost all sense of balance when it comes to the size and the scope of the federal government in Washington.”

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