The Democratic leadership held a strange press conference just now, unveiling a “jobs agenda” that offered no details on the size of the bill, no real details on the elements of the bill, basically no details at all other than the fact that there will be a jobs bill.
We do know some elements of what will be in an initial package. You’ll see incentives to kickstart construction and infrastructure projects by adding money to the Highway Trust Fund, and some manner of job creation tax credit for small businesses (Harry Reid said that would go through Max Baucus’ Senate Finance Committee). Some safety-net spending, like extending unemployment benefits or the COBRA subsidy, may be included as well. But nobody really knows at this point.
What Sen. Reid did say is that there would be a vote on a jobs bill on Monday. “We hope to have a bipartisan proposal under Rule XIV today. Otherwise we’ll do it ourselves,” the Majority Leader said. “We want to work with Republicans, and it seems on the job issue, they want to work with us.”
I’m not sure that’s true. Republicans are making demands on the type of jobs vote they’d want to see. They want a pledge to get a vote on legislation on the estate tax, which Reid wouldn’t commit to. And they want to split any tax cut measures from any spending bills, which Sens. Durbin and Dorgan have been putting together.
He would not give any hints as to the size or composition of the bill, saying that he didn’t want to “step on our message.” More details were promised today or tomorrow.
Senate Democrats hoped to finish at least the first bill of this jobs agenda “before we leave here” at the end of next week, Reid said.
Some conservative Democrats have balked at any bill with a high price tag, which could be the reason why Reid is splitting the “jobs agenda” into discrete parts.