Friday, November 4, 2011

Jobs bill: 51 yeas, 49 nays--the nays have it? In US Senate, minority rules.

Senate GOP Blocks Obama's $60 Billion Infrastructure Plan

Associated Press
November 03, 2011

WASHINGTON –  Republicans in the Senate Thursday dealt President Obama the third in a string of defeats on his jobs agenda, blocking a $60 billion measure for building and repairing infrastructure like roads and rail lines.

Republicans unanimously opposed it for its tax surcharge on the wealthy. The 51-49 vote fell well short of the 60 votes required under Senate procedures to start work on the bill.

Senate Republicans block another piece of Obama jobs bill
By Lisa Mascaro, LA Times Washington Bureau
November 3, 2011,

Republican-led opposition in the Senate blocked the highway infrastructure flank of President Obama's jobs package from advancing Thursday, as the GOP continues its united front against Democratic efforts to raise taxes on millionaires to pay for programs to create jobs.

Obama's proposal was part of his $447-billion jobs package that would have invested in public school teachers, firefighters and government programs that economists say would put Americans back to work.

The White House package was blocked in the Senate last month, as Republicans oppose taxing millionaires to pay for government spending.

Democratic leaders in the Senate are breaking the package into individual elements in an unsuccessful effort to build pressure on Republicans.

Thursday's proposal would have allocated $50 billion for highway, rail and airport modernization projects as well as $10 billion for an infrastructure bank that could leverage private investment for additional projects. It would have been paid for by a 0.7% surtax on household incomes above $1 million.

Putting Millionaires Before Jobs
EDITORIAL: November 3, 2011

There’s nothing partisan about a road or a bridge or an airport; Democrats and Republicans have voted to spend billions on them for decades and long supported rebuilding plans in their own states. On Thursday, though, when President Obama’s plan to spend $60 billion on infrastructure repairs came up for a vote in the Senate, not a single Republican agreed to break the party’s filibuster.

That’s because the bill would pay for itself with a 0.7 percent surtax on people making more than $1 million. That would affect about 345,000 taxpayers, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, adding an average of $13,457 to their annual tax bills. Protecting that elite group — and hewing to their rigid antitax vows — was more important to Senate Republicans than the thousands of construction jobs the bill would have helped create, or the millions of people who would have used the rebuilt roads, bridges and airports.
Senate Republicans filibustered the president’s full jobs act last month for the same reasons. And they have vowed to block the individual pieces of that bill that Democrats are now bringing to the floor. Senate Democrats have also accused them of opposing any good idea that might put people back to work and rev the economy a bit before next year’s presidential election.
There is no question that the infrastructure bill would be good for the flagging economy — and good for the country’s future development. It would directly spend $50 billion on roads, bridges, airports and mass transit systems, and it would then provide another $10 billion to an infrastructure bank to encourage private-sector investment in big public works projects.
The only good news is that the Democrats aren’t going to stop. There are many more jobs bills to come, including extension of unemployment insurance and the payroll-tax cut. If Republicans are so proud of blocking all progress, they will have to keep doing it over and over again, testing the patience of American voters.