U.S. Senate has rejected President Barack Obama's plan to jump-start
U.S. job creation through a combination of tax incentives and public
works programs. In a procedural vote, the plan got no Republican backing
and was opposed by three senators of the president's own Democratic
For weeks, President Obama has traveled the country, demanding that
Congress act on his jobs bill, designed to combat an unemployment rate
stuck above nine percent. On Tuesday, he got his wish, but not the
result he hoped for. The Senate voted 50 to 49 to begin debate on the
$447 billion American Jobs Act. Although a majority, it was short of the
60 votes required under Senate rules.
The chamber’s top Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, portrayed
the bill as an extension of what he sees as President Obama’s failed
“Today’s vote is conclusive proof that Democrats’ sole proposal is to
keep doing what has not worked," said McConnell. "The president’s first
stimulus was a legislative and economic catastrophe.
Eight-hundred-twenty-five billion dollars later, there are 1.7 million
fewer jobs in this country than there were when the first stimulus was
The American Jobs Act contains tax breaks for businesses that hire new
workers, an extension of temporary cuts in Social Security contributions
made by wage and salary earners, an extension of federal jobless
benefits, and federal funding for road construction, school renovation
and other public works projects. Although specific provisions differ
from President Obama’s original economic stimulus package of 2009, its
overall goal - using the federal government to jump-start economic
activity and stimulate job creation -- is much the same.
Senate Majority Leader, Democrat Harry Reid argued in favor of the plan,
noting that the Senate version called for raising federal taxes on
people earning more than $1 million a year to offset expenditures.
“This legislation will ask the richest Americans to give their fair
share to get our economy back on track," said Reid. "The president’s
plan will put construction crews back to work, building the things that
make our country stronger - roads, bridges, dams, sewers, water systems,
and up-to-date schools where our children get the best education
Reid accused Republicans of blocking economic progress to weaken
President Obama before next year’s general elections.
“The president’s plan contains many ideas that Republicans have
supported consistently over the years," he said. "Republicans oppose
those ideas now. I guess Republicans think if the economy improves, it
might help President Obama. So they root for the economy to fail and
oppose every effort to improve it.”
Minority Leader McConnell countered that it is Democrats who are playing
politics with the U.S. economy, pressing forward with a bill that stood
little chance of passage in a politically-divided legislature.
“Democrats have designed this bill to fail in the hopes that anyone who
votes against it will look bad for opposing a bill they have mistakenly
referred to as a jobs bill," he said. "This whole exercise is a charade
that is meant to give Democrats a political edge.”
the Democrats opposing the bill was Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who voiced
opposition to raising taxes on the wealthy and expanded government
spending. Republicans criticized the plan as wasteful government
spending at a time when the national debt is already exploding.
Despite the defeat of the president’s bill, some individual provisions
such as tax deductions do enjoy bipartisan support and might be approved
by Congress. In the Republican-controlled House of Representatives,
Majority Leader Eric Cantor says he hopes to work with Democrats on
those areas of agreement. Hours before the Senate vote, President Obama
voiced support for a piecemeal approach, if that is what it takes to
secure congressional approval.
In a statement after the vote, President Obama said the American people
will not take "no" for an answer when it comes to job creation.