Skip to comments.Dems trim jobs bill to woo moderates
Posted on 05/26/2010 5:52:04 PM PDT by jazusamo
With time running out, Democrats pared back their more than $190 billion jobs and economic relief bill Wednesday, hoping to win over nervous moderates and muster the votes for passage before Memorial Day.
As labor unions weighed in, the behind-the-scenes maneuvering took on the character of an old-fashioned brawl, matching union leaders against a fierce business-backed lobbying campaign to derail the bill and its tax reforms affecting multinational corporations. And more than ever this year, the debate captures the budget challenges facing Democrats, whipsawed by shaky markets, the European debt crisis and fears of a double-dip recession just months before Novembers elections.
Right now, jobs matter more than deficits, growled American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees President Gerald McEntee, taking a poke at corporate CEOs who ship our jobs overseas and stick American taxpayers with the bill.
With the entire world focused on sovereign debt, it is not moving in the right direction, countered Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.). I am highly skeptical.
With the new alignment, House leaders were increasingly confident Wednesday night that they could bring the bill to the floor Thursday after twice postponing action this week. And once the votes are assured, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) want to move quickly in order to give the Senate time to act before the holiday recess.
An unwieldy amalgam of tax and safety net provisions, state aid and infrastructure investments, the 433-page bill includes $56 billion in 10-year offsets to help pay its costs. But the Congressional Budget Office estimates it will still add about $123 billion to the deficit over the next 16 months and $141 billion in total through 2015.
Democrats hope now to bring down these deficit totals to below $100 billion. Extended jobless benefits would be sunset Nov. 30, a month earlier than planned and a costly doc fix patch to forestall deep cuts in Medicare reimbursements for physicians cut to 19 months.
Despite protests from Silicon Valley, Pelosi has held firm thus far against backtracking on tax reforms aimed at venture capital partnerships that now shelter substantial income at lower capital gains rates. But the retreat on the Medicare doc fix is painful for her and many in the party after promises made in the course of the health care debate.
Democrats would argue here that they are not seeking new spending per se but simply the equivalent of an extended freeze on what Medicare now pays. The goal is to have a patch big enough to restore some stability to Medicare and also allow enough time to initiate reforms to encourage physicians to provide primary and preventive care and band together in more cost-efficient accountable care organizations.
Instead, under the political pressure of the deficit, there has been a steady retreat in the past two weeks.
A five-year $88.5 billion plan was reduced to $65 billion over 3½ years, and now the latest version will be less than half as that and ends December 2011. Republicans argue that this is a problem Democrats brought on themselves by not addressing the doc fix in the health care debate when it would have raised their costs. But frustrated health care experts say both parties are kicking the can and physicians down the road and missing a chance for a more permanent solution and reforms.
The White House is working with the party leadership toward trying to move the jobs package forward this week. But with new offensives planned in Afghanistan, the administration also wants timely action on a second emergency appropriations bill that includes funding for the Pentagon and State Department and which will add tens of billions to future deficits.
To stay on schedule, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could force a vote as early as Thursday on a motion to cut off debate on the $58.8 billion emergency bill. And after all the bitterness of the Iraq war debate when Republicans accused Democrats of not supporting the troops Reid has resurrected the same political chestnut, standing now before American flags and demanding action.
Yet for all his efforts, election-year border security and immigration issues not to mention the BP oil spill in the Gulf have intruded. Wednesday saw more testy exchanges on the floor and delay. Complicating matters further has been the White House, sending conflicting signals as to what additional money it wants for domestic purposes.
Nothing illustrates this better than a proposed $23 billion initiative to help local public school districts forestall threatened layoffs of teachers next fall. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been outspoken in support of the emergency funding, but, thus far, White House Budget Director Peter Orszag hasnt shown the same public passion.
Democrats are frustrated that there has been no presidential request for the funds, making it harder for Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) to include the money in a pending $58.8 billion supplemental spending bill. And Orszags OMB was conspicuously silent on the issue in its endorsement Monday of the Senate war measure.
Duncan sought to rally support Wednesday, saying Obama is unequivocal in his support of the initiative and he spoke for him.
I speak for the administration, and I speak for the president on this, Duncan said. The president is unequivocal. Hes 100 percent behind this. We have talked repeatedly about it. ... So any sense that the White House is not behind this is an absolute myth.
Duncan spoke at a Capitol Hill news conference that followed Tuesdays announcement by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) that he had abandoned any effort to add the money on the Senate floor this week. Instead, the strategy is to focus on the House, wherein which Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey (D-Wis.) expects to include the money in his version of the same war and supplemental spending bill.
We want to see this done. ... Ive talked to everybody about it. Ive talked to the president repeatedly about this as early as late last week, Duncan said, praising Obeys efforts. Asked if he had had spoken to Orszag about the matter, Duncan sounded more curt. Peter Orszag works for the president, he said.
Tilt. Just jail them all.
That job bill is to feather their own little beds. There ain’t no jobs period.
Amen to that!
Am I missing something here? Didn’t these congressional morons spend over $1,500,000,000,000.00 on several job’s bills/stimulus/tarp thingees?????? Where the hell are the jobs, you idiots? FOOLS!
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