“That is why jobs must be our No. 1 focus in 2010, and that’s why I’m calling for a new jobs bill tonight.”
Those were the words of President Barack Obama during his State of the Union Address in January. Standing in the way of that “jobs bill” was significant opposition from Republicans, and even a Democrat or two, and as late as yesterday, the ability of the Democratic majority to break the GOP filibuster of the “jobs bill” was in doubt.
But with the votes of Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, as well as Scott Brown, George Voinovich and Kit Bond, cloture was invoked, the filibuster was broken, and renewed screeching from the right over “RINO”s began anew.
The idea of a “jobs bill” itself was not what so infuriated the Republican base. Politico explains:
And while this vote was a rare victory for Reid these days, there is still anger over how he handled the process.
Earlier this month, Reid killed a bipartisan jobs deal cut between Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), infuriating Republicans who spent weeks in negotiations. Even Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the author of a tax provision that became the heart of the Reid bill, voted against the smaller package.
“I don’t know why any senator would trust Harry Reid after he just killed a bipartisan compromise jobs bill,” said a Republican aide. “He basically dumped a must-pass measure with $45 billion in tax relief and said, ‘You know what, screw you guys.’”
But with increasing criticism being lobbed at Congress over an inability to govern the country, it appears some GOP moderates were interested in showing that some people in Washington are still capable of breaking ranks and attempting to work with the opposing party.
Still, you and I know that this bill won’t have any appreciable effect on the American economy, leading to more jobs. It is a political stunt, giving the Democrats a narrative of “working to create jobs”, and a piece of legislation to point to when unemployment invariably goes down on its own.
But to be clear – while this jobs package is unpopular with the GOP base and has caused more than a few former enthusiastic supporters of Senator Scott Brown to cry themselves to sleep in the dead of night over his “betrayal” – it is hardly anything approaching the stimulus, or healthcare reform.
The package itself is “only” (yes, I used quotations around that word) $15 billion dollars, and contains a lot of benign things like highway funding and small tax cuts. So, while it certainly increases the cries of “excessive spending” – we aren’t talking about a trillion dollars, nor are we talking about reforming 1/8 of the American economy.
So the blowback on Brown and Maine’s two Republican Senators over this vote will be relatively minor in the end. And that, may in fact be why five GOP Senators felt comfortable making a gesture by breaking their own party’s filibuster.