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St. McCain Spearheads “Real American Jobs Act”

From the wreckage of the jobs crisis, along comes one man willing to set things right. A war hero, to be precise, a man who spent years in a POW camp, in case you didn’t know. John McCain will make it all better with his “Real American Jobs Act,” tailored perfectly to real Americans.

They’re planning to roll out a jobs plan that amounts to a conservative’s dream agenda: targeting labor and environmental regulations, enacting a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, lowering corporate and individual tax rates, encouraging energy production and expanding free trade, according to a draft obtained by POLITICO.

The effort is being led by a trio of strange bedfellows — Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, a wonky former head of George W. Bush’s budget office, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a libertarian-minded tea party favorite, and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the party’s 2008 presidential nominee. And it remains to be seen whether the entire 47-member GOP conference unites behind the proposal, which may be unveiled as soon as Thursday, but it appears to have broad backing among GOP senators.

Let’s see… individual and corporate taxes have been cut multiple times by this President, something he brags about on the campaign trail about. The Congress just passed a trio of “free trade deals.” Energy production, at least in the form of oil and gas production, is at an all-time high. The Administration is being sued over delaying new ozone standards and slow-walking OSHA regulations. So apparently, the Republican plan is the status quo plus a balanced budget amendment. The balanced budget amendment, then, is the fault line between the parties. But John McCain is involved, of course, so this is a very serious proposal.

There are more elements to it, of course. The draft version would reduce the top marginal tax rate to 25%, and use the same number for the corporate tax rate. (25/25!) The draft would repeal both the Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank. It would incorporate the REINS Act, so that any regulation which “costs the economy” over $100 million (I don’t know who decides that cost) would have to be approved by Congress. No regulation would be allowed to be issued until unemployment falls below 7.7% (the rate in January 2009 when the President entered office). And there are shots at the EPA, the National Labor Relations Board and other Republican bugaboos.

So yes, much as the American Jobs Act was a political document, this “Real American Jobs Act” (what, you don’t like it, you’re not a real American?) is a sop to an ideological project. The difference is that, while at least the AJA is nominally targeted at creating jobs, this bears no resemblance to job creation whatsoever, and is just a conservative wish list pretending to be a jobs plan. The “Repeal the 20th and 21st Centuries Act” is more like it.

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David Dayen

David Dayen