Dems put teachers’, first responders’ jobs on deck

At an event in North Carolina yesterday, President Obama talked up the next phase in the fight over job creation. We knew Dems would start to move on individual provisions within the American Jobs Act, and yesterday, we learned which component would go first.

“What we’re going to do is we’re going to break up my jobs bill. Maybe they just couldn’t understand the whole all at once. So we’re going to break it up into bite-size pieces so they can take a thoughtful approach to this legislation.

“So this week I’m going to ask members of Congress to vote on one component of the plan, which is whether we should put hundreds of thousands of teachers back in the classroom, and cops back on the street, and firefighters back to work. So members of Congress will have a chance to decide — what kind of future do our kids deserve? Should we stand up for men and women who are often digging into their own pockets to buy school supplies, when we know that the education of our children is going to determine our future as a nation?

“They’re going to have a chance to decide, do we want to make sure that we’re looking after the men and women who protect our communities every day — our first responders, our firefighters, our police officers?”

The price tag for the measure would be about $35 billion, and it’s projected to save or create roughly 400,000 jobs for teachers, cops, and fire fighters. It would be paid for with a very slight increase on taxes on millionaires and billionaires. (The overall American Jobs Act, priced at over $400 billion, required a 5.6% surtax on the very rich. Because Democrats are now pushing one provision at a time, each component would require a much smaller tax increase to pay for a much smaller bill — in this case, $35 billion.)

Why are Dems pursuing this first? It may have something to do with the idea’s overwhelming popularity — a CNN poll released yesterday asked respondents whether they’d support “providing federal money to state governments to allow them to hire teachers and first responders.” A whopping 75% supported the measure, making it the most popular idea for public investment of any proposed. Even 63% of Republicans approve of the spending.

But on Capitol Hill, it’s a different story. Senate GOP officials have already announced their intention to not only kill the bill through yet another filibuster, but also to delay the vote. Republican leaders will apparently slow walk an appropriations bill to fund several cabinet agencies, hoping to use an endless stream of pointless amendments to push off the jobs bill.

For his part, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters yesterday, “There is no reason we cannot finish the appropriations bills before the end of the week, and have a vote on this jobs bill. I am happy to keep the Senate in session as long as needed to make sure we get a vote on this jobs bill.”

In other words, if GOP senators use stalling tactics, Reid will just keep the Senate going indefinitely.

While that plays out, the total number of Republican lawmakers in either chamber willing to support the teachers/first responders jobs bill — or even allow a vote on the bill — is currently zero, despite overwhelming support from the American mainstream.