Last week, Senate Republicans stood together to kill the American Jobs Act, refusing to even let the chamber debate the bill. The next part of the jobs fight should be a little easier, but it won’t be.
Phase Two in the Democratic plan is a $35 billion proposal to save or create roughly 400,000 jobs for teachers, cops, and fire fighters. It would be fully paid for, financed through a slight increase on taxes on millionaires and billionaires.
With the American mainstream desperate to see Congress act on job creation, who in their right mind would oppose such an idea? By some preliminary measures, the answer appears to be, most of the Senate.
Several moderate Democrats and Republicans appear to be struggling to overcome “stimulus fatigue” setting in among voters back home and are withholding support for now — meaning the latest proposal is at risk of winning even less backing than the president’s signature economic bill, which fell nine votes shy of breaking a GOP-led filibuster last week.
“At some point — and my opinion is now — we’ve got to stop spending money we don’t have,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who caucuses with Democrats. He told POLITICO he probably would vote to block the latest proposal from even moving forward for debate.
Money we don’t have? The bill is paid for. That’s the point. With a modest increase in taxes on millionaires and billionaires, we can save or create 400,000 jobs without increasing the deficit. Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office found that the larger American Jobs Act, thanks to Democratic fiscal responsibility, would lower the deficit, not raise it.
I find it hard to even wrap my head around such remarkable stupidity. CNN asked Americans in a nationwide poll this week 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 self-identified Republicans approve of the spending.
And yet, here we are. The total number of Republicans willing to support this jobs measure is zero. Fearing that supporting a wildly popular idea might cause them electoral trouble, some “centrist” Democrats are preparing to balk, too.
This doesn’t make any sense.
I realize that in some circles, there’s a reflexive tendency to blame President Obama for, well, nearly everything. But this serves as a helpful reminder — the White House is pushing a sensible plan to address a brutal jobs crisis. Instead of acting, extremist congressional Republicans are still rejecting literally every idea of any value, and center-right Dems are still more comfortable cowering under the table in a fetal position, hoping the GOP isn’t too mean to them.