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Reid Doesn’t Have 60 Votes to Start Debate on Jobs Bill; Round Up the Usual Suspects

(photo: supertobor)

Harry Reid slimmed down the jobs bill because he didn’t want it loaded up like a Christmas tree with items unrelated to job creation. He took out $31 billion in tax extenders, some safety-net extensions which he promised in a different bill, and a variety of other pieces. What he really did was nix the promise Max Baucus and Charles Grassley demanded, to hand over $230 billion from the Treasury to super-rich inheritors of estates by dialing back the estate tax permanently to 2009 levels.

As so, because he preferred a jobs bill, however modest, that wasn’t held hostage to tax cuts for the rich, the Senate won’t provide the votes to even move to debate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) lacks the votes to begin debating his targeted jobs bill, according to sources monitoring the legislation.

Reid needs 60 votes to open debate on the $15 billion jobs bill. The vote is scheduled for Monday, when lawmakers return from the Presidents Day recess.

“I understand Reid does not have the votes for cloture on Monday on his jobs bill,” one source said.

Among those carping about how the Baucus-Grassley stick-up was preferable? Why, Blanche Lincoln and Evan Bayh, of course! Lincoln said in a statement that the Baucus-Grassley bill “was carefully crafted to achieve significant bipartisan support and contains several important measures to spur business growth and encourage new hires.” That’s simply not true, relative to Reid’s bill, which took every job creation measure from Baucus-Grassley and left the pork behind. On CNN last night, Bayh complained that “some in our caucus are allergic to tax cuts for small businesses to spur hiring.” That’s what Reid’s ENTIRE BILL is. You can reasonably question whether or not it works, like lefty radical liberal Ben Nelson. . .:

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has raised the concern that a shortage in customer demand could render the tax break useless.

“There’s a question of whether that puts the cart before the horse,” said Nelson. “If I don’t have enough customers for my product, hiring more people is not going to help and tax credits are not going to be to my advantage.”

But then the answer is to INCREASE AGGREGATE DEMAND through direct public spending, which Nelson and Bayh don’t want to do. Incidentally none of that kind of public output appeared in Baucus-Grassley.

The bottom line is that lobbyists wanted to lard up the Baucus-Grassley bill with goodies for themselves, and Reid saw exactly what would happen, that Republicans would drop their support at the last minute and then decry the bill for its pork. And the thing is, if they wanted to add back in all the Baucus-Grassley elements, they could do that on the floor. It’s called “legislating” by offering amendments. If a majority wants to see the tax extenders or the unemployment insurance and COBRA extensions in the bill, and if they’re so popular, they should have no problem getting the required votes. But they don’t want to even proceed to debate on the bill.

On a conference call yesterday touting the infrastructure parts of Reid’s jobs bill, Barbara Boxer said that she has assurances from George Voinovich (R-OH) and James Inhofe (R-OK) that they would vote for the jobs bill, but it sounded like those assurances came before Reid scaled it back. “I’m very hopeful. It’s hard for me to understand how anyone could vote against this particular package, it’s very targeted,” Boxer said. She supported Reid’s plan to scale back the bill. “I support a lot of what was in that package, but a lot in there wasn’t job creation. What Sen. Reid did was right. Eventually, we’ll do a lot of what was in there.” Reid’s modular, rolling jobs agenda process makes some sense, but the dirty secret is that Senators, even Republicans, WANT bigger bills, making it easier to slip in favors for this or that.

This is basically why people think the Senate is broken, because individual hurt feelings have become more important than the common good.

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David Dayen

David Dayen