As expected, the American Jobs Act failed to pass a cloture vote last night. The vote was 50-49. Democrats held the vote open so “New Englander of the Year” Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) could return from Boston and cast the final vote in favor, giving them the talking point that a majority supported the bill. Tom Coburn, under treatment for prostate cancer, missed the vote. Harry Reid switched his vote to no at the last minute to enable him to bring it up again, so Shaheen’s vote was needed for that majority.
Two Democrats, Jon Tester and Ben Nelson, voted with all Republicans save Coburn against the legislation. Nelson gave no explanation, while Tester released a statement saying that “The things I support in this bill are outweighed by the things I can’t support.”
We shouldn’t be sending billions of dollars in bailout aid to states. And I can’t support tax gimmicks that do little to create jobs and fail to address a much bigger underlying problem: The need for a big, broad and bipartisan plan to cut the deficit and to make sure we can pay our bills and rebuild our economy.
Moving forward, we need to focus on investing in the things that create jobs in this country: Our critical infrastructure, education, and research and development. We need significant but responsible cuts to government spending. We need a wholesale reform of our tax code to make sure that millionaires and corporations pay their fair share, and to make taxes more fair for working families. And we need to ensure that critical initiatives like Social Security and Medicare are built to last, so they can benefit our kids and grandkids.
This measure does none of those things. It is an expensive, temporary fix to a problem that needs a big, long-term solution. And I look forward to working together, putting politics aside, to find a solution that’s right for Montana and the nation.
I find that to be mostly gobbledygook. What he calls “bailing out states” I call “saving the jobs of teachers and cops and firefighters.” And any look at the unemployment rolls shows that the loss of 500,000 jobs in the public sector since 2008 is one of the major drags on growth. His alibi amounts to “this bill doesn’t solve every problem ten years out in the manner I want so I’ll vote no.” It’s a typical politician’s dodge. Nelson would at least just say “I don’t want to raise taxes on anyone” and be done with it; Tester’s excuse is more of an insult.
Just because there was majority support for the cloture vote doesn’t mean there was majority support for the legislation. Joe Manchin, Jim Webb and Joe Lieberman all expressed their opposition to the underlying bill. So the bill itself is going nowhere, though it was a political vehicle all along more than a serious piece of legislation.
Now the plan is to break the bill up into component parts and to call out Republicans as obstructionists. That was the focus of the President’s statement after the vote:
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.
This is a tactic that many liberals sought, to make Republicans defend their position again and again and again. Some conservative Dems are about to get caught in that crossfire. But that shouldn’t really be of anyone’s concern.
However, a jobs bill that over time could add more jobs than the American Jobs Act, and one that costs nothing up-front, passed the Senate while the AJA was failing yesterday. More on that in a minute.