Politics killed the jobs bill

The following editorial first appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

 

It may be overly optimistic to expect Republicans and Democrats to agree to individually pass some key elements of President Barack Obama’s defeated jobs legislation.

But to accept the alternative perspective, that there’s no way this Democrat running for reelection is ever going to get Republican support, would be demoralizing. The public is desperate for bipartisanship — on anything.

Was it a dream, or wasn’t there a time in America when lawmakers who considered themselves statesmen could be counted on to put politics aside to vote in the public’s best interest? If the jobs bill had flaws, there was no serious negotiation to fix them.

Instead, Democrats accused Republicans of not wanting the economy to improve because that would help Obama, while Republicans accused Democrats of wanting Republicans to kill the jobs bill so they could be blamed for high unemployment rates.

What has this gamesmanship cost? Unless approved individually, proposals in the jobs bill that could have helped millions of people weather the current economy have fallen victim to political posturing. Among the bill’s ideas that deserve reconsideration:

• Workers’ take-home pay would be boosted by cutting the Social Security wage tax to 3.1 percent.

• Business taxes would be cut in half on payrolls up to $5 million.

• Payroll taxes would be eliminated for new workers or increases in current workers’ pay.

• Companies could receive a $4,000 tax credit for hiring a long-term unemployed worker.

• A $50 billion investment would be made to modernize highways, transit, rail and aviation.

• A $35 billion allocation would prevent the layoffs of 280,000 teachers nationwide.

• An additional $25 billion would modernize classrooms.

•There was $15 billion to rehabilitate and refurbish vacant properties and foreclosed homes.

• The bill also would provide job training, update the unemployment insurance system, and extend jobless benefits.

The Senate vote that doomed the package fell strictly along partisan lines, with the Republicans and two Democrats who face tough re-election contests in conservative states — Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Jon Tester of Montana — voting against it.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., switched his vote from yes to no, but only as a procedural maneuver, so he would be able to move to reconsider the vote. Obama said the defeat was “by no means the end of this fight.”

The cerebral president in recent weeks has been urged to be more combative, but it’s not fighting words that most Americans are craving. That’s almost all they’re hearing from Democrats and Republicans, and they have had enough. People need jobs, preferably without the politics.

CONTACT US

  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING

 

More

Fri, 07/28/2017 - 07:43

Answering questions about the JAHC’s role in the community

Recent commentary, in the Juneau Empire and elsewhere, raises questions concerning the role the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council plays in the life of the... Read more

Fri, 07/28/2017 - 07:13

Raising Juneau’s bed tax raises more questions for the JACC

As debate continues how best to allocate Juneau’s sales tax dollars, there were necessarily some disappointed people when the City and Borough of Juneau Finance... Read more

Fri, 07/28/2017 - 07:12

Juneau’s role in climate change

Juneau residents get it. We see climate change around us — a retreating glacier, spruce aphids, more rain, less snow, etc. We see the need... Read more