Wednesday, October 12, 2011

GOP & Senate Rules Block Passage Of American Jobs Act

Oct 11: Because of unanimous Republican opposition and the Senate Rules regarding filibuster and the cloture procedure requiring 60 votes to proceed with threatened legislation, S.1660, the President's $447 billion American Jobs Act (AJA) [See WIMS 10/6/11], was defeated by a vote of 51-48, with Senator Coburn (R-OK) not voting. [Note: the official count was 50-49-1; however, Senator Majority Reid voted no on the cloture vote for procedural reasons]. The proposed package includes $245 billion in tax cuts; $140 billion in investments in infrastructure ($60 billion + $30 billion for school rehab) and local aid; and $62 billion in continued unemployment benefits. The proposal was to be paid for by the so-called millionaires surtax of 5.6% on incomes over $1 million.
    The President issued a statement saying, "Tonight, a majority of United States Senators voted to advance the American Jobs Act. But even though this bill contains the kind of proposals Republicans have supported in the past, their party obstructed the Senate from moving forward on this jobs bill. Tonight's vote is by no means the end of this fight. Independent economists have said that the American Jobs Act would grow the economy and lead to nearly two million jobs, which is why the majority of the American people support these bipartisan, common-sense proposals. And we will now work with Senator Reid to make sure that the individual proposals in this jobs bill get a vote as soon as possible. 
    "In the coming days, Members of Congress will have to take a stand on whether they believe we should put teachers, construction workers, police officers and firefighters back on the job. They'll get a vote on whether they believe we should cut taxes for small business owners and middle-class Americans, or whether we should protect tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. With each vote, Members of Congress can either explain to their constituents why they're against common-sense, bipartisan proposals to create jobs, or they can listen to the overwhelming majority of American people who are crying out for action. Because with so many Americans out of work and so many families struggling, we can't take 'no' for an answer.  Ultimately, the American people won't take 'no' for an answer. It's time for Congress to meet their responsibility, put their party politics aside and take action on jobs right now."
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) issued a statement saying, "Republicans unanimously voted against our nation's economic health to advance their narrow political interests. Republicans blocked a bill that would put nearly two million Americans back to work. And they voted against this job-creating bill despite previously supporting many of the ideas it contains, such as tax cuts for the middle class and small businesses.

    "This balanced bill would have asked millionaires to pay their fair share to help get our economy get back on track. Americans want us to create jobs by cutting middle-class taxes, hiring veterans, and putting Americans back to work building roads, bridges and schools. Democrats will continue to advance these job-creating policies, and Republicans will have to explain to the American people why they oppose common-sense, bipartisan solutions for putting Americans back to work. With millions of Americans unemployed, and millions more struggling to make ends meet, we need to act now. I hope Republicans start listening to the American people."

    Senator Reid issued a separate, more lengthy statement today (October 12) and said in part, "Republican obstructionism has once against cost this nation millions of jobs. Last night, Republicans blocked the American Jobs Act, President Obama's plan to create 2 million jobs by giving tax cuts to business and middle-class families and investing in modern roads, bridges and schools. . .  Last night, a majority of the Senate voted to take up this bill. But Republicans won't put politics aside for a moment, even when the price of their stubbornness is struggling families and failing businesses. But I'll say it again: Democrats will not give up on creating jobs in America. We will introduce the American Jobs Act piece by piece. . ."

    U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued a statement on the Senate Floor on October 11, prior to the vote saying in part, ". . .later today, the Senate will vote on President Obama's second attempt to address our nation's ongoing jobs crisis with a stimulus bill. And Republicans welcome the opportunity. "If voting against another stimulus is the only way we can get Democrats in Washington to finally abandon this failed approach to job creation, then so be it. "The President's been calling for this vote for weeks; and in my view, we can't have it soon enough. . .

    ". . .by proposing a second stimulus, Democrats are showing the American people that they have no new ideas for dealing with our jobs crisis. Today's vote is conclusive proof that Democrats' sole proposal is to keep doing what hasn't worked — along with a massive tax hike that we know won't create jobs. So it's hard to overstate the importance of this vote. The President's first stimulus was a legislative and economic catastrophe.  Nearly three years after passage, we're still learning about its failures and abuses. We knew it was a bailout for states. We knew about all the absurd projects it funded. And over the past several weeks, we've also learned that the Obama administration was doing the very thing with solar companies that it once rightly criticized many others for doing on Wall Street: gambling with other people's money. But there's really only one thing you need to know about the first stimulus to oppose this second one, and it's this: $825 billion later, there are 1.5 million fewer jobs in this country than there were when the first stimulus was signed. . .

    "Democrats have designed this bill to fail -- they've designed their own bill to fail -- in the hopes that anyone who votes against it will look bad for opposing a bill they misleadingly refer to as a 'jobs bill.' . . . So I've got a better idea: how about we get this vote that Democrats already know won't pass behind us, so we can focus on real job-creating legislation that we actually know is worthy of passing with bipartisan support? . .

    "Over the next weeks and months, Republicans will continue to press our friends on the other side to work with us on legislation that will actually do something to create jobs in this country. Our first criterion for any proposal is that it would actually lead to more jobs, not fewer. I know that may seem crazy to some, but in our view it's not a jobs bill if it leads to fewer jobs. Our second criterion is that it doesn't add to the deficit. Republicans have been calling on Democrats to work with us on bipartisan job-creating bills for three years. . .

    "Democrats like to point out that the second stimulus we'll have a vote on today is 'paid for' with tax hikes and that it contains a tax cut. What they don't tell you, of course, is that the tax cut lasts for about 13 months while the tax hike lasts forever. They hide the fact that over the next five years it will actually increase the deficit by nearly $300 billion dollars next year alone. Another thing the Democrat supporters of this bill fail to mention is that about four out of five of the people who'd be hit with their new tax are businesses, including thousands of small businesses across the country — in other words, the very people Americans are relying on to create new jobs. . ."

    Senator McConnell issued a second statement today (October 12) indicating further, "Later today the Senate will show that Democrats and Republicans can, in fact, work together to make it easier for American businesses to create jobs. By passing free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, we will help the economy and we'll put the lie to the ridiculous Obama campaign claim that Republicans are somehow rooting against the economy. The fact of the matter is, if President Obama were willing to work with us on more bipartisan legislation like this, nobody would even be talking about a dysfunctional Congress. There wouldn't be any reason to. But, as we all know, that doesn't fit in with the President's reelection strategy. The White House has made it clear that the President is praying for gridlock, so he has somebody – besides himself -- to point the finger at next November. . ."

    Access the statement from the President (click here). Access the first statement from Sen.Reid (click here). Access the second statement from Sen.Reid (click here). Access the first statement from Sen. McConnell (click here). Access the second statement from Sen. McConnell (click here). Access the White House website on the AJA for complete details of the bill (click here). Access the roll call vote on the cloture motion (click here). Access legislative details for S.1660 which includes links to the Congressional Record and Floor remarks (click here).