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. PJP

    Man, there are some really upset DEMS out there! So sorry Charlie!!

    January 20, 2010 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  2. Jimmy James

    Already Liberals like Barney Frank are saying the 60 vote majority rule needs to be changed. Odd, there was no mention of it last week. Democrats will never learn. They changed the rules on replacing a Senator in 2004 to their advantage and tried to switch it back this year and it cost them a seat. Play with the rules too much ( which is called cheating ) and you eventually lose.

    Bush never had the majority in the house and senate like Obama did yesterday and still does today ( yes, 59 to 41 is still a majority ) yet passed legislation. They can too but won't comprimise within their own party but blame the republicans for not working with them? Their own party won't work with them. Too little too late. 2010 will wipe out any majority he had. Be like Clinton. Take the hint and move to the center ( like you campaigned as)

    January 20, 2010 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  3. DAVID

    some posts on here say that the dems should do away with the fillibuster.... why is it now that they don't have the 60 they want to change the rules on a whim..... even today FARNEY BRANK stated that the rule should be changed.... i guess now that they know that the climate change bill is done, the free pass to illegals is over, bank taxes are done, health care will have to be dramatically changed, and obama's presidency will now be considered to be a lame duck moron academy... oh let me not forget that the govt. wanting to raise the debt limit by $1.9 TRILLION DOLLARS is done....... free spending power grabs are over as soon as Brown is seated.....

    January 20, 2010 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  4. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    Healthcare will pass. Americans need healthcare because 99% of us, will lose everything we have worked for IF we have a medical crisis. Big Insurance will drop you like a fly IF you are sick, there is no morality with them, just the bottom line.

    Massachusetts will soon find out, who Brown really is. And as some of our GOP friends say about our president, I say........

    Brown 2 yrs and the door.

    January 20, 2010 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  5. JGB

    Scott Brown was elected to stop the out of control freight train the Democrats are on. Time to restore checks and balances to our system and some sort of responsible spending, no more of this blank check thrown into the wind.

    January 20, 2010 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  6. Kat

    We do not need more stimulus, We do not need more government. We need them to back off and let the small businesses of the ccountry do what they do best... create jobs. The spending and taxing by washington is totally ridiculus.

    January 20, 2010 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  7. Tom L.

    Here's a pretty simple question: Why are they creating a stimulus package for jobs now? Wasn't that what the FIRST stimulus package was for?

    It seems that a lot of Democrats learned absolutely nothing from yesterday's election and the New Jersey/Virginia elections.

    Stop spending. Just stop it already. Government does not create jobs. They never have and they never will.

    January 20, 2010 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  8. lkb

    It is absolutely ludicrous to think throwing good money after bad will solve this country's problem. I also find it distasteful that those who think we need to pay more taxes need to look closely at how low the number is for people who actually do pay. A very low percentage of this country's population carries the debt. I am fed up with the unions and special interest groups. They are creating a bigger hole for us to pay. Sure raise the taxes and I know that will affect jobs, benefits, tax
    collected and raise the costs of goods to the consumer. It is time for people to get educated in this country....it is economics 101.

    January 20, 2010 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  9. Babaganusch

    Thank goodness we are back to some semblance of a two party system. To quote a saying I've heard countless times on these comment boards....."Elections have consequences!"

    January 20, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  10. Tom L.

    Your memory is very short. After 9-11, for 6 years we saw growth and low unemployment.

    Then the Democrats took over Congress. One of their first ideas was to raise the minimum wage. That worked well.

    Another great idea was that it was every American's right to own a home. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would buy any and every loan...forget about qualifying! We'll worry about that later. That worked out well, too.

    January 20, 2010 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  11. Mike in MN

    The Dems so called jobs bill is just stimulus 2, more of the same from the first failed stiumulus. Voters won't stand for more wasted hundreds of billions that does far more to adding to the deficit than to creating jobs. Blue Dogs will not vote for it.
    If congress does anything it sould be something that puts real money in the hands of consumers and business quickly and in a broad based way. Not just more government jobs and temp construction jobs. There is more to the economy than goverment jobs and union construction jobs.

    January 20, 2010 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  12. Rick Battle

    You have to remember that Ma. is a relatively wealthy state, and these are smart voters. They know that both of the candidates would be "Rookies" and not have the power or prestige of Teddy. The natural choice would be a republican for this state

    January 20, 2010 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  13. Ethan

    Unemployment = 10%



    It's right there in black and white!

    Hello regular Americans, are you seeing this?

    January 20, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  14. Brandonious

    So the republican plan is to do nothing. Well, at least they are sticking with what they know.

    January 20, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  15. Jobs - Jobs - Jobs

    Keep sending up jobs bills. If the Republics want to say "No" to jobs, to paraphrase their former leader: "bring em on"

    January 20, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain

    God forbid Republicans should ever do anything that will help the American worker!

    Their style is to cut taxes for the wealthy, telling us those are the people who create jobs.

    My question, then, is this: If that strategy worked, then why after all the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy did so many people lose their jobs and our economy went into the toilet?

    January 20, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    30 years of tinkle-down voodoo Reaganomics have made the wealthy richer, the Middle Class smaller, and the average American worker worried about losing their job and health insurance.

    The Republicans would like nothing more than to turn our country into a third-world theocracy, along the lines of Saudi Arabia.

    You know, where a few families control all the wealth, the vast majority of people live in poverty without access to education, health care or opportunity, and religious police keep everyone in line.

    January 20, 2010 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  18. jason

    what do they (author of article) mean controversial first stimulus package. Although many republicans still attack it it is widely acknowleged that it has so far saved/created 1.6 million – 2.5 million jobs. Yet the tea baggers have taken credit at rallies claiming they helped their district with the stimulus package

    January 20, 2010 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  19. ib

    Liberals just can't or won't see what a failure the first program was and that we must stop spending money we don't have. Oh I forgot they still just blame the bad things on Bush.

    January 20, 2010 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  20. Tiller in Texas

    Well there goes our chances of getting anything done.

    have you ever heard the term "political shutdown"? Well that is all the party of NO is. GOP = NO

    January 20, 2010 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  21. Sunny Texas

    Thank you so much Mass. for stopping Coackley dead on her tracks. I am so happy that we are on our way back to the good old days of Cheney and Bush...Yeepeeee!!! I can't wait to we get the house and senate back and then the Presidency! Can you imagine what we will be able to accomplish? Less taxes for the rich, another war (Yes!), increased health premiums (my favorite), how about another financial collapse (can hardly wait!) and my favorite..a Brown and Palin ticket! (I am soiled). Who can stop us now? Democrats? I don't think so they have their heads so far up their &**, they won't even know what hit em. Viva la Vida...let's celebrate by bashing gays, immigrants and yes Haitians (As per Limbuagh).

    January 20, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  22. m smith

    Browns new pick up cost more than the predidents personel car. His claim to fame a nude picture and a stint on American Idol on Fox. Whoopie. Repos have really set their standards high.

    January 20, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  23. Mickey

    Now the real terrorists have finally proved that they will stop at nothing to destroy this country...Republicans are the REAL enemy...the REAL terrorists that we have to obliterate.

    January 20, 2010 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  24. I live in my parent's basement

    Jobs bill? Screw that. I don't need a job, I just need that check to keep coming. A little setback happened last night, please don't let that stop you from sending me my check. Come on man!

    January 20, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  25. Independant from IA

    Common Sense. That is all it will take. No more give aways/intitlement/Congress on same health plan as the American public/
    Term limits. Ban lobbist to one half a day in washington per week and on a Saturaday afternoon. We the people are paying the bill so we need to fire some of the non performers. We did just that with the Senate seat of the people in Mass. Time to get serious about the next election. Things are on the right road as of late. The Change Obama promised is
    not what Freedom loving Americans want. Protect our Constitution!!
    Now there is a Comon Sense Solutions our Fore Father Gave us and we just might should pay attention to it. It is there for a reason/ What are the Dems afraid of anyway?
    IA Independant

    January 20, 2010 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
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