EFFECTIVE JOBS BILL TO DIE IN JUST A FEW DAYS…. For senators who claim to take job creation seriously, there’s a terrific opportunity to prove it — but they’ll have to act very quickly.
By most measures, the the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Fund should be one of the most popular programs in Congress. A key component of the Recovery Act, the fund subsidizes jobs with private companies, nonprofits, and government agencies and has single handedly put more than 240,000 unemployed people back to work in 32 states and the District of Columbia.
Governors, including Mississippi’s Haley Barbour (R), have sung its praises, and urged its extension. In July, CNN called the TANF Emergency Fund “a stimulus program even a Republican can love.” If only that were true on the Hill.
The TANF Emergency Fund expires this week. Democrats want to extend it; Republicans want to kill it; and because our legislative process is ridiculous, one of the most successful jobs programs we’ve seen in a while is likely to die in just a few days.
In rural Perry County, Tenn., the program helped pay for roughly 400 new jobs in the public and private sectors. But in a county of 7,600 people, those jobs had a big impact: they reduced Perry County’s unemployment rate to less than 14 percent this August, from the Depression-like levels of more than 25 percent that it hit last year after its biggest employer, an auto parts factory, moved to Mexico.
If the stimulus program ends on schedule next week, Perry County officials said, an estimated 300 people there will lose their jobs — the equivalent of another factory closing. […]
While the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress want to extend the program, they are meeting stiff resistance from Republicans, many of whom oppose all things stimulus.
It’s obviously not just Tennessee. If the emergency fund expires on scheduled on Thursday, 26,000 workers in Illinois will lose their jobs. So will 12,000 workers in Pennsylvania. Thousands more across the country will meet the same fate.
The House has approved an extension of the program — twice. It would cost about $2.5 billion to keep it going, which is a relatively paltry sum that has a considerable impact on helping struggling Americans get a job.
But Senate Republicans don’t seem to care. It’s part of the stimulus, which means it must be killed, whether it’s working or not.
It’s not too late — Senate sources tell me Dems still might try to keep the TANF Emergency Fund alive for another year — but no one seems to think a Republican filibuster can be broken.
And we’ll once again face an ironic dynamic: Americans will get frustrated with Democrats over more job losses, instead of the Republicans responsible for killing an effective program that keeps Americans on the job.
Indeed, in a sane political world, the death of the TANF Emergency Fund would be a pretty big scandal, and Republicans would be afraid to kill an effective jobs program with an unemployment rate near 10%. Instead, the GOP is counting on being rewarded by Americans for taking steps like these, and polls suggest that’s exactly what’s going to happen.