A JOBS BILL ON THE AGENDA?…. Federal Reserve officials warned yesterday that unemployment will “likely will remain high for the next several years because the economic recovery won’t be strong enough to spur robust hiring.”
It’s a problem that has prompted some congressional leaders to consider a new jobs bill.
Senate Democrats will take up a new job-creation bill in the wake of the 10.2 percent unemployment rate, Majority Leader Harry Reid told his colleagues Tuesday.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) told The Hill that Reid (D-Nev.) made the announcement about a new jobs bill at the Senate Democrats’ weekly lunch.
Reid said he was looking at an initiative focused on job creation “and that our caucus will take it up,” Cardin said.
Reid didn’t specify what would be in the bill, but he said that it was going to be “one of the priorities” for the Senate, Cardin added.
Now, there’s no indication of when we might see a jobs bill. Or what will be in it. Or what it would cost. Or what its legislative prospects might be.
For that matter, it’s not clear how much Reid emphasized the idea yesterday — The Hill ran a fairly lengthy report, but I haven’t seen similar reporting from the other outlets. If there was a concerted push about a major new employment initiative, it seems likely there’d be more attention focused on this.
That said, I can only hope this talk continues. We’ll no doubt hear talk of a “second” stimulus — or “third,” if you count Bush’s useless package from early 2008 — but the demand for a jobs bill should be obvious. The recovery efforts from earlier this year rescued the economy from a depression, and helped bring some stability to an economy on the brink. Given the severity of the economic downturn policymakers inherited, a bold, ambitious jobs bill can make a huge difference — the stimulus got us out of the ditch, a new effort can get us going in the right direction again.
The politics, of course, will be painful. Center-right Democrats say they want a focus on the employment picture. Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-N.C.) said last week, “Three things ought to be the top priority: jobs, jobs and jobs.” Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) added, “[J]obs should be our top priority and we shouldn’t do anything that detracts from that.”
But what will they, and others like them, say if/when a new jobs bill (cue scary music) requires federal investment? Will conservatives, once again, say that deficit reduction should take precedence over additional economic recovery efforts?