Is it possible that enough members of Congress are now getting the message that voters want to see more action and less political gamesmanship/gridlock? The Senate’s passage via a bipartisan vote of a $15 billion jobs bill keeps hope alive (but barely):
The Senate easily passed a $15 billion jobs bill on Wednesday morning amid hope that the measure could provide a blueprint for other items on President Obama’s agenda.
The measure passed 70 to 28, with 13 Republicans joining 57 Democrats in support of the package. One Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted against it.
“We’ve had so much gridlock,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), co-author of a key portion of the bill. Now, he said, “finally we have something” bipartisan to show the public.
The legislation is the first element of what Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has said will be a multipart “jobs agenda.” The measure includes a new program that would give companies a break from paying Social Security taxes on new employees for the remainder of 2010. It also carries a one-year extension of the Highway Trust Fund, an expansion of the Build America Bonds program and a provision to allow companies to write off equipment purchases.
The next stop is the House, where Democratic leaders are weighing whether to pass the Senate version or go to conferenc
e to reconcile it with the $154 billion jobs bill the House passed in December.
But all are not hailing this action. Red State:
Celebrating the GOP aisle-jumpers that helped prop up Harry Reid’s stature in the Senate, the Washington Post announces that Reid’s jobs bill has advanced past the filibuster stage…
This might sound good on paper, but it is highly unlikely to do much about the nearly 15 million of us that are out of work…unless, of course, we have skills to offer for helping build highways. It is also unlikely to do much about the nearly 20% of us that are under-employed, but as newly-elected Senator Scott Brown explained as he voted in favor of the bill, “This Senate jobs bill is not perfect … but I voted for it because it contains measures that will help put people back to work.”
We’ll see if “doing a thing badly is better than doing nothing at all” is a good strategy. And, time will tell just how many people will be put back to work on 15 billion dollars, most of which will go towards laying down asphalt and painting pretty white and yellow lines on it.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.