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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Reid Plans To Bring Obama's "Job Stimulus" To A Vote

Update - 10:10 PM: President Obama's $447 Billion Job's Plan was defeated tonight in the Senate (50-49) falling 10 votes short. Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson (NE) and Jon Tester (MT) joined all the Republicans to defeat the bill. Sen. Mark Prior (D-AR))voted for the bill and again failed to support the position of most Arkansans opposed to the programs of President Obama. However, Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) vote not to support Obama's plan and issued the following statement: "The Majority Leader’s bill is more of the same policy that failed with President Obama’s first ‘Stimulus.’ We cannot tax, borrow, and spend our way to prosperity. Real economic recovery will not come by growing government. It will only come by fostering an economic environment where the private sector can create jobs, which this bill does not. Instead it creates jobs that will go away when the money goes away, just as we saw with the President’s last ‘Stimulus’ bill. That approach failed then and will again.U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) issued the following statement after voting against cloture on Senator Harry Reid’s Jobs Bill:  “The Majority Leader’s bill is more of the same policy that failed with President Obama’s first ‘Stimulus.’ We cannot tax, borrow, and spend our way to prosperity. Real economic recovery will not come by growing government. It will only come by fostering an economic environment where the private sector can create jobs, which this bill does not. Instead it creates jobs that will go away when the money goes away, just as we saw with the President’s last ‘Stimulus’ bill. That approach failed then and will again. "

But the plan is not dead. Senate leader Harry Reid used a Senate procedure (amazing since he overruled another procedure last week available to the minority party) to keep open the option for another vote.  He changed his vote to against the plan making the final vote 51-48 which for some stupid reason allows Reid a second bite at the apple.

The Senate passed (63-35) S.1619, the China currency bill. Bill now goes to the US House.
----------------
Today in Washington, D.C. - Oct. 11, 2011
At 5:30 PM, the Senate will hold a series of 3 roll call votes. The first vote will be on a district judge. The second vote will be on final passage of S. 1619, the China currency bill which Democrats previously overturned Senate precedents in order to block amendments to the bill by Republicans.

The third vote will be on cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 1660, a modified version of President Obama’s latest stimulus bill. The previous version included numerous tax hikes Democrats didn’t like, so they’ve replaced all of them with one big surtax on job creators.

If cloture is not invoked on the motion to proceed to the stimulus, the Senate is likely to finally turn to debate on the 3 free trade agreements that have languished for years: H.R. 3080, the South Korea Free Trade Agreement; H.R. 3079, the Panama Free Trade Agreement, and H.R. 3078, the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
After ignoring or avoiding the stimulus bill President Obama has been campaigning around the country for the last few weeks, Senate Democrats are finally holding a vote this afternoon on it. Of course, the vote is expected to fail, and despite Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) predictions on MSNBC this morning that the “overwhelming majority of Democrats” will vote for it, there are serious questions as to whether a majority of Democrat senators will support the bill.

As the AP reports today, “Democratic unanimity is not assured. Moderates like Sens. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. — both are up for re-election next year in states where Obama figures to lose — may abandon their party, even as oil-state Democrats have been assuaged by a decision to get rid of an Obama proposal to have oil companies give up tax breaks. ‘We’re likely to lose two, three, four Democrats,’ Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second ranking Democrat in the Senate, told Chicago's WTTW-TV Monday.”

And The Hill writes, “Democratic leaders in the Senate are scrambling to avoid defections on President Obama’s jobs package, which appears headed for defeat on Tuesday. A lack of Democratic unity on the president’s bill would be embarrassing for the White House, which has been scolding House Republicans for refusing to vote on the measure.”

Indeed, The Hill points out, “Despite the changes, the legislation still does not enjoy the support of all 53 senators who caucus with the Democrats. A handful of Democrats are undecided or leaning no on the bill. Democrats who will vote no or are leaning no include Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.), who all hail from red states and are up for reelection next year. . . . [Sen. Joe] Lieberman [ID-CT] opposes the bill because the 5.6 percent surtax on millionaires is being used for new spending instead of reducing the deficit, and will vote against the measure on final passage, his office said. . . . The office of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said Monday that he is undecided. ‘He wants to see the whole thing — including amendments — before he decides whether he’ll vote for it,’ an aide said. . . . Tester is officially against the bill. He supports an overhaul of the tax code rather than the changes in the bill and is concerned that the payroll tax cuts would weaken Social Security. . . . Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) remained officially undecided on the bill as of Monday, his office said. Webb has a problem with the millionaire’s surtax because it is a tax increase on ordinary earned income. He would prefer closing loopholes and increasing taxes on capital gains. Nelson has spoken disparagingly of Obama’s proposal, but his office said Monday that Nelson has not decided yet how he will vote on it and is still studying the bill. Manchin has been critical of the legislation, though he, too, has not said how he will vote. His office did not respond to questions Monday.”

Meanwhile, jobs groups have declared their opposition to the new surtax Democrat Senate leaders added to the stimulus bill. In a letter to senators last week, a group that includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, and the Associated General Contractors, wrote, “the burden of the proposed tax increases would fall disproportionately on the income of America’s small and mid-sized businesses who pay taxes at individual rates. . . . the Obama Administration’s own data demonstrates that 4 out of 5 of the taxpayers who will face this surtax are business owners – and thus, increasing the tax burden on these business owners will reduce the amount of capital that they would otherwise have available to invest in their company or hire additional workers.”

“In sum,” the jobs groups write, “the Senate legislation would pay for the President’s Jobs Bill by raising tax rates on hundreds of thousands of business owners, a job killing tax hike to pay for a bill purported to strive for job creation.”

As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell explained last week, “The president himself has said that raising taxes is the last thing you want to do in a weak economy — even the White House predicts the unemployment rate will be high when this tax would kick in. So the real goal here for the Democrats, as far as I can tell, is entirely political — by arguing for a permanent tax hike to pay for a temporary stimulus, they essentially admitting they’re not interested in creating jobs–because proposing a partisan tax hike 13 months before an election won’t create a single job.”

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