Senate blocks Obama's 'jobs' bill; kills GOP alternative
It was $35 billion that was to be sent to states in order to prevent governors and state legislators from having to make tough budget choices; pay teachers and firefighters or spend the money on something else.
It would have been a temporary measure lasting only one year. And given that state revenues are not going to recover next year either, I suppose the Democrats would have sent another $35 billion to pay for another year of making it easier on Democratic - and Republican - state lawmakers.
The senate GOP was having none of it. The Hill:
For the second time in two weeks, Senate Republicans voted in unison to block "jobs" legislation, which the Obama administration and Senate Democratic leaders have made central to their agenda.
The majority of Democrats then blocked a second "jobs" measure offered by Republicans.
The first measure, a piece of President Obama's larger jobs package, failed in a 50-50 vote after two Democrats and Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.) joined Senate Republicans in voting against moving to the measure.
Democrats Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.) also sided with Republicans.
Nelson and Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.) were the two Democrats to vote against the president's full "jobs" package last week. Tester voted yes on Thursday's measure.
Lieberman (Conn.), who caucuses with Democrats, cited concerns about the legislation's cost effectiveness in voting against the measure.
As with last week's vote, Democrats failed to woo a single Republican vote. The staunchly unified GOP opposition calls into question whether the Democratic strategy has been able to exert the intended pressure on centrist Republicans.
"For the second time in two weeks, every single Republican in the United States Senate has chosen to obstruct a bill that would create jobs and get our economy going again," Obama said in a statement released after the vote. "That's unacceptable."
Vice President Joe Biden visited Capitol Hill Wednesday to hold a rally with Senate Democrats blasting Republicans for protecting millionaires at the expense of the working class.
Republicans accuse Senate Democratic leaders of playing politics by bringing to the floor a bill that raised taxes instead of working in good faith to pass bipartisan legislation.
The $35 billion Democratic measure was designed to prevent layoffs of teachers, police officers and firefighters in cash-strapped states. Most of the funding, $30 billion, would have gone to saving teaching jobs, with the rest of the money directed to first responders.
There was about $180 billion in stimulus money that went to bail out cash strapped states. Since then, unemployment benefits have been extended twice. The money to pay for those extended benefits is gone and states are stuck holding the bag, having to pay for what the federal government wrought.
There are some states that simply refuse to make the hard choices in a recession that prioritizing spending would entail. Of course teachers should be paid and if some favored projects of powerful politicians have to be scrubbed, so be it. But in many states, those decisions are not being made and priority spending is being cut.
First, states should get their fiscal house in order. They might be surprised at how much they have to spend on teachers and firefighters if they really tried.