President Barack Obama’s $447 billion jobs plan failed to clear the Senate on Tuesday evening, despite the best pleas and weeks of campaigning by President Obama. The bill received a simple majority of 51 votes but fell short of the necessary 60 to end debate. Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Jon Tester of Montana were the only Democrats to vote against the bill. Both of them are facing tough re-election campaigns next year.
The president’s Jobs Bill also has little chance of clearing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Mr. Obama called on lawmakers to “do the right thing” and “put country ahead of party,” and pass the $447 billion jobs bill earlier in the day. He said Republican opponents will have a hard time explaining to voters why they rejected it.
With the American economy stagnated and unemployment currently at 9.1 percent, Mr. Obama said the act would put thousands of teachers, police and construction workers back on the job. He said taxes for workers and small businesses would be cut. “This is a moment of truth,” Obama told a union crowd in Pittsburgh. “The time for gridlock and games is over. The time for action is now.”
President Obama’s Bill has been much criticised in recent weeks and Senate Leader Harry Reid even had to change the proposal on how to pay for the bill in the last week, in an attempt to secure support from his own Democratic Party for the bill. Reid after inserting a provision to pay for the bill by raising income tax rates, by 5.6 percent on people who earn more than a $1 million a year, accused the GOP of blocking the legislation both to deny Obama a victory and to protect millionaires at the expense of the rest of the country.
Republicans fundamentally opposed the measure over its spending to stimulate the economy and its tax rise on millionaires and many small business owners.
Reacting to the vote, Mr Obama said: “Tonight’s vote is by no means the end of this fight.” In a statement after the vote, Obama said his bill contains proposals Republicans have supported in the past but that the GOP had obstructed the Senate from moving forward on the jobs bill. Obama says he will work with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to see that individual proposals in the bill gain a vote as soon as possible. Obama says that each vote will lead to lawmakers having to explain their positions.
He challenged lawmakers to “explain to their constituents why they’re against common-sense, bipartisan proposals to create jobs”.
The House and Senate are expected to use the remainder of the week to approve U.S. trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, one of the few areas of agreement between Republicans and the administration on boosting the economy.
The White House and Democratic leaders must now resort to Plan B: The Democrats will need to look at ways of breaking the jobs bill into pieces that would be easier to pass, such as payroll tax cuts, unemployment benefits and construction spending.
Both parties will no doubt use the outcome as a political tool ahead of next year’s presidential election, as Democrats have accused Republicans of failing to approve a measure that would cut high unemployment. In return, Republicans have said Democrats are trying to increase taxes, which would kill jobs.
One thing is clear, President Obama is continuing to use the bill as a vehicle for making Republicans look bad. Many of the components of the bill were rejected in 2009, by the then Democratic controlled Congress, so it is politicking of the highest order to say the Republicans are to blame. I am certain some component parts of the bill will pass once broken up.
The challenges of kick starting the United States economy in the next year are not economic, they remain political, so perhaps Standard & Poor were justified to downgrade the U.S. credit limit over sixty days ago.
The impasse continues leaving the economy at the mercy of the markets and speculators yet again.
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