January 20th, 2010
04:54 PM ET
10 years ago

Jobs bill: New Senate math means rough road

Washington (CNNMoney.com) - The road for another stimulus bill just got tougher following Tuesday's election of Republican Scott Brown to the Senate in Democratic stronghold Massachusetts.

After health care, Congress' next big priority is to pass something that shows voters in an election year that they're on top of the nation's unemployment scourge.

But the Democrats' loss of a filibuster-proof super-majority in the Senate throws hurdles onto an already rocky path toward a new stimulus bill aimed at saving jobs.

Given how controversial the first stimulus package remains, passing a new jobs bill, or "second stimulus," was never going to be easy. Republicans have especially targeted the first stimulus package as a prime example of the kind of big government spending they aim to end.

"There is a reason the nation was focused on this race," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "The American people have made it abundantly clear that they are more interested in shrinking unemployment than expanding government. They are tired of bailouts."

Experts and policy analysts say the Republican win in Massachusetts will shore up Republican opposition to anything that looks like big spending.

"I think it'll be very hard," said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. "Democrats will be under more pressure to pass a jobs bill, because if they don't do something about the
economy, voter dissatisfaction will increase. But Republicans are going to be more emboldened not to vote for it."

The bills: The House passed a $154 billion jobs bill in December, but Senate Democrats are planning to debut their own jobs-creation bill in coming weeks.

The two bills were developed independently but share some components, like infrastructure spending to build roads and bridges, as well as state aid to plug budget holes and keep teachers and police officers employed.

Senate Democrats have been brainstorming in backrooms since last summer to come up with a package that incorporates ideas from all parts of their caucus, according to congressional aides. Party leaders Dick Durbin of Illinois and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota have been running the negotiations.

The final package will offer something for the left, like spending for green sector jobs, and something for the right, like tax breaks for small businesses that hire new workers.

On the tax breaks, Senate leadership is considering a proposal that Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., plans to introduce this week incorporating ideas Republicans have touted.

Casey wants to give a one-year payroll tax break to companies that create new jobs offering wages up to $50,300. Small companies would qualify for a 20% tax break and larger companies with more than 100 employees would qualify for a 15% break.

Another way to make a jobs bill more palatable to both fiscally conservative Democrats and Republicans is to craft a bill that pays for itself and doesn't add to the deficit. That's a big goal of the jobs proposal, Democratic aides say. But they wouldn't spell out how.

The bill may try to take advantage of money freed up in the budget by the fact that the Troubled Asset Relief Program is coming in under budget.

Wooing Republicans: Will such fiscal carrots be enough to woo any Republicans?

"Small business tax breaks are great," said Brian Darling, director of Senate relations at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "But when they're basically being used just to get some Republican support and the balance of the proposal is just federal spending, this sounds very similar to the first stimulus plan."

Doug Holtz-Eakin, a former Congressional Budget Office director, said that the Massachusetts win should send a signal to Democrats to start from scratch on the jobs bill and start working with Republicans. He said
Republicans would prefer a bill that focuses more on bigger and more effective tax cuts, like blanket breaks on payroll taxes and capital dividend taxes.

"The landscape has changed," said Holtz-Eakin, who advised 2008 presidential candidate Sen. John McCain. "They're going to have to go back and think about what policies are going to get the Republicans on board."

Indeed, a couple of Republican senators' offices said they can't imagine a Democratic proposal on jobs that could win them over.

"A second stimulus bill, packed with more spending, is the wrong way to approach this," said Jeff Sadosky, spokesman for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas. "Obama's budget has already ballooned the debt. More spending is not the answer."

But Democrats may be able to peel off someone like Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, one of three Republicans who last February voted with Democrats to pass the original stimulus package. But she'd only be game if the jobs bill really didn't add to the deficit, a spokesman said.

"Senator Collins has said that she is open to considering the possibility of a jobs bill but her main concern is how it would be paid for?" said Collins spokesman Kevin Kelley. "She believes that the debt levels we are accumulating now, and that are projected, are simply not sustainable and pose a considerable threat to the health of our economy."

Filed under: economic stimulus • Economy • Senate
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. gr

    After health care, Congress' next big priority is to pass something that shows voters in an election year that they're on top of the nation's unemployment scourge.

    But the Democrats' loss of a filibuster-proof super-majority in the Senate throws hurdles onto an already rocky path toward a new stimulus bill aimed at saving jobs.

    I see this as a good thing becasue now us American people can see first hand what party is on their side. Only the media see this a bad. The media is the real problem and I have to say the which the media will shut up some time. THIS IS A GOOD THING BECASUE NOW THE REPUBLICANS HAVE TO WORK WITH THE DEMS!

    January 20, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  2. gr

    "I think it'll be very hard," said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. "Democrats will be under more pressure to pass a jobs bill, because if they don't do something about the
    economy, voter dissatisfaction will increase. But Republicans are going to be more emboldened not to vote for it."

    And the American people will see what the Republicans party is really about – OBSTRUCTIONIST!

    January 20, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. ICARE

    Look, if nothing gets passed and we GET HUNGRY, we'll be voting the ELEPHANTS OUT OF OFFICE ......



    Republi CORP or Republi CON: so smart will not listen to anyone = in love with scrooges = nothing for the people = see past 8 years = creates wealth in the form of borrowing = left 5 trillion dollars for future to pay = Gives handouts of 1 trillion dollars to billionaires = See W

    Dumbo CRAT = dumb enough to listen = Usually cleans up after the elephants' mess = Revives the economy = Always give something back to the communities = see Bill Clinton

    January 20, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  4. cph9680

    They've had two years to show they cared about the economy. Too late to start trying to do anything with only 10 months before the election!!!

    January 20, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  5. ICARE



    January 20, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  6. ICARE

    When people are starving, they are going to come out and vote and it AINT going to be for the ELEPHANTS!!!!

    January 20, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  7. Mark C

    Since all the Senators and Congressmen work for us and are therefore employees of the citizens of the US why do they insist on refusing to allow the rest of the citizens access to the same medical plan they are all covered by?
    As their employers why aren't the rest of us eligible to the same plan?
    Why has no one asked them if they would approve that? Since our taxes pay their salaries seems only fair.
    Seems it would be a great question for the supreme court to settle.
    Put them all on the spot. Make it simple. One page.
    Yes or no, all citizens are eligible to participate in the federal medical plan congress and the rest of the federal employees are covered under.
    Love to hear their argument against.

    January 20, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  8. Dar

    Where is the 1st stimulas money at????
    How many jobs were created?
    Who got all this money?
    Odumbo thinks we are stupid and forgot about this didnt he.
    Odumbo made to many bribs and ran out of cash most likely. now he wants more money to spend.
    NO not yet, show us what the 1st stimulas did for America

    2010/2012 REAL change is coming

    January 20, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  9. John L. - NYC

    Oh no...they haven't even spent all of the first one, and what has been spent has not focused on small business growth until very recently – and even then is suspect. Let me get this straight a stimulus directed at providing jobs to people who don't have them, paid for by taxes on our citizens, many of which don't have jobs?

    SMALL BUSINESS is the key, employing nearly 90% of the US workforce and is what many of the fiscally conservative side have been saying all along (so please spare me the "if you have a better idea" and "party of NO with no good idea" posts, I'm not even a republican, just rational and a realist. As a small business owner, what incentive do i have to take on new employees if I'm just going to pay more out in taxes that will go to a new stimulus? Tax CUTS on small businesses. It's not that difficult.

    January 20, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  10. Four and The Door

    A second stimulus would be a bigger mistake than the first one.
    They should instead be apologizing for the performance of the first one. Instead, they are talking about a second one.

    When Plan A doesn't work for the Obama Administration, they come up with........more of Plan A?!?!?

    January 20, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  11. karl

    You mean they'll have to find a bipartisan solution? Imagine that. Politicians doing what they're elected to do?

    January 20, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  12. Charlie in Maine

    Actually this may be a gift in disguise. The Democrats should put forward every progressive piece of legislation and force the idiots to "read the phone book" whlie the country's business comes to a crawl- Remember how well it worked for Newt baby to shut down the government. The fillibuster is a double edge sword If the Democrats use it well thet can show th National Rethuglicans to be the party of "no " much more effectlively. It is one thing to "say " you will fillibuster everything...... quite another to actually do it.

    PS Dems, show some backbone your ideas are best and they know it that is why they needed the extra guy to stop you. Having 59 Senators does not make you a minority so don't act like one Get out there and do the people's business and let them try do stop you. Either you will succeed or they will look bad for stopping you. Either way the only way it is your majority "Use it or lose it"

    January 20, 2010 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  13. Marcus Tate

    People may be "sick of bailouts", and another $300 check from the government is not what we al need – but at least the Democrats are trying something new. The Republicans, on the other hand, are still shouting the same tired battle cry over and over – "Tax cuts for the rich", a mainstay of Republican administrations through the ages, and mentioned again several times here as though it is the only possible answer. I think we've proven that doesn't work, either. That's kind of what got us to where we are now.

    Greedy corporations have outsourced all of our jobs to save money, as well as imported all the cheap foreign labor they can, under bills like H-1 and L-1. Entire industries here are over-run by foreigners.
    Nobody can open businesses and create jobs here as long as all the work is going to India and China and being done for about half of what we do it for here.

    Its pretty simple – if you want to create jobs here, stop outsourcing to India and China, stop importing as many foreign workers as possible, and give businesses here some incentive to manufacture and create some jobs here, instead of making it impossible for them to compete.

    January 20, 2010 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  14. Kevin

    Let them filibuster. What are Dems afraid of? I'm sorry but we govern by majority for most things. 59 to 41 is a clear majority. Dems should have open honest debate on a bill, give Repubs every chance to participate. Craft the best bill and then go get a vote. If the Repubs filibuster, then it will show them to be the obstructionists they are.

    What are Dems afraid of?

    January 20, 2010 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  15. gt

    more waste,,, and .. big bucks to there buddies,,, how about trying to keep jobs in america for a change,, here is a idea.... surcharge these c. e .o. on these undeserved and vular bonus,,,,

    January 20, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  16. southerncousin

    If they can figure out a way to take back the trillion in political waste and paybacks that were included in the first stimulus package by the Obama administration, we could repackage it and use it to actually stimulate the economy, we might have something to talk about. How about taking back some of that union bailout money that went to GM, since the unions don't have to pay taxes on the expensive plans that they worked 20 hours in a life time to earn? How about taking back that stimulus money that went ot pay for the renovation of UAW Executive golf course? Obozo is proposing to get money back from the banks even though they paid it back with interest. Is is possible he could treat the crooked, corrupt unions that love him so, the same way?

    January 20, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  17. Antonio san antonio tx

    i forget didn't bush sign the first stimulus bill????

    January 20, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  18. Bob in Pa

    For the most part this Congress is so far out of touch.
    Now we have Sen. Casey wanting to speak up for us after ignoring letters, phone calls and emails all this year ? Whatever it is that he introduces needs to be gone over carefully, I sent this guy a letter on Health Care and got back a response about Climate Change.

    January 20, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  19. Michele

    I don't see this as a negative, either. We still have 59 Dems, don't we? Well, 58 because you can never count on Lieberman to do anything to help either side. But 58 out of 100 is still a big majority. I would really like to see this Congress come up with some positive legislation, vote against more military funding (the drones are killing thousands of women and children) and pass a reasonable health care plan. Make Republicans put their money where their big mouths are, and work FOR the country, instead of for their lobbyists and their reelection campaigns. We can vote you out as well, in November, you know!

    January 20, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  20. J.P.

    NEW stimulus bill???

    What, aren't you satisfied with the 700 bahzillion jobs Obama's original Porkulus Bill "saved or created?"

    I have to give The Kenyan Squatter credit though... he did create three new jobs in Virginia, Jersey and Massachusetts. Good work, Birth Certificate Barry!

    January 20, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  21. DAVID

    it is starting to look alot like christmas...... 11 months early.......

    January 20, 2010 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  22. Minnesotan

    And had they had control of Congress and put a stop to any stimulus bill we'd be deep deep into a depression right now. Idiots!

    The GOP is in denial. Have they not learned anything from Hoover. You can not tighten your belts in the midst of a recession!!

    January 20, 2010 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  23. Republicans - Wrong about everything, Wrong for America (and GW Bush was the worst President ever)

    In the old day, we would now be talking about how the Republicans would have more power to shape policy and institute some of their agenda. Now, we are talking about how the Republicans will have the ability to stop the government from doing anything. Which, I guess, is the Republicans new agenda. Don't do anything. Don't change anything. Let big business do whatever they want and that will be best for the American people. The people of Massachusettes must have really short term memories. How sad for all of us.

    January 20, 2010 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  24. Lilarose in Oregon

    It is shocking that ONE PERSON, relatively or almost totally unknown, will keep me and my family from having decent medical care for years to come.

    Yet Sen Brown will enjoy the best health care money (yours and mine) can buy. Seventy-two percent of his premiums will be paid by the government (that is you and me). He can got to military facilities to get medical care. Gosh, even people in the military can't always do that!

    This new pawn of the Republican party has the power to keep you and I alive or dead.

    January 20, 2010 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  25. sharon

    Brown sounded great–he spoke with confidence–and is man of the hour! I honestly didn't tink there would be anyone that could stop Pelosi–Reid–and this President!

    As Brown spoke last night, he had the sounds of a Presidential candidate. I was thrilled when he spoke about equipping our soldiers for war rather than spending money for lawyers to defend them.

    The New York Police Department stated to bring the detainees' trial to New York–security alone could go up to a trillion dollars.

    Then lately I heard another terrorist from another country wants to come to DC and be tried in our cours-even though-the terrorist attack wasn't even on American soil!

    January 20, 2010 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
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