Monday, March 1, 2010

Harry Reid's Jobs Bill (yawn)

Scott Brown is a dirty traitor. (Yawn.) He voted for Harry Reid’s (yawn) jobs bill. Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude (yawn), I just find it hard to care about this bill.

Once upon a time, Democrat Max Baucus and Republican Charles Grassley worked together in harmony, hand-in-hand, as lovers, to craft a truly bipartisanship way to throw away $85 billion. Ostensibly, their plan would have created more than one job. . . though I doubt that. Still, they did center justify the text of their bill, and it looked very pretty.

But then Senatorial Rogue Dingy Harry Reid, aka The Dinge, jammed a knife in their backs within about an hour of the unveiling. Indeed, Reid decided that he wasn’t even going to allow that $85 billion dollar bill to come to the Senate floor for consideration because. . . and I kid you not. . . it included things the Republicans liked. So much for focusing on the American people instead of partisan politics.

As a result of Reid’s crapulence, this $85 billion bipartisan bill vanished in a huff of smoke, and Baucus was. . . well, I don’t know if there’s a Senatorial term for what I’m thinking, it’s like “pistol-whipped” only less cool. . . maybe “gavel-slapped”? Yes, that works: This bill vanished in a huff of smoke, and Baucus was gavel-slapped.

In place of the $85 billion bill, Reid produced a “$15 billion” bill. Here is what it does:

• It provides $20 billion to fund highway and transit programs through 2010.
Boy does this sound good, until you realize two things. First, these projects are already underway and have hired all they’re going to hire. So don’t look for new jobs. Secondly, this only spends $20 billion on these projects, which is less than 10% of what the vaunted stimulus bill spent on roads. . . and you know how well that turned out.
• It provides a $1,000 exemption from social security payroll taxes for employers who hire unemployed people.
Now you may recall that I have advocated cutting the payroll tax to provide an incentive for companies to hire new workers. But this ain’t that. First, this is only for one year, meaning there is no incentive to hire anything other than temporary workers. It also appears that you only get the $1,000 credit if the employee stays the entire year, i.e. it’s risky. And it only applies to currently unemployed workers, which means there will be a mismatch between available labor and needed labor. Nice work Harry. Maybe next time, you can limit the tax cut to one-legged men with hunchbacks and an aversion to clowns. Not to mention, if this is a $15 billion bill and it’s already spent $20 billion on roads, that doesn’t really leave much for these tax cuts, does it?
• It extends a tax break for businesses that spend money on capital investments like equipment purchases.
Ah ha! This is the cut in capital gains that I advocated. . . only, it isn’t. This isn’t a cut in the capital gains tax rate. Thus, it doesn’t change business behavior by encouraging businesses to sell their old equipment and replace it with new equipment. This is just a one-time discount on new equipment, which you don’t need if you’re still depreciating the old stuff. And even then, it’s so targeted that even our one-legged man with the hunchback and the aversion to clowns probably won’t qualify.
• It expands the use of Build America Bonds to put states further into debt on capital construction projects.
As I discussed the other day, sometimes infrastructure spending can be a good idea. But this sounds like a gimmick. First, we’re talking about only a couple billion dollars, in an economy that rates in the tens of trillions. Think of it like getting a $20 raise. Woo hoo! No more dog food for you! Secondly, state budgets are so bad at the moment that adding debt is about as wise as telling a junkie where to buy discount crack (Sam's Discount Crack Club. . . on Third and Main).
All in all, these are sort of the right ideas, but done wrong. It's like boiling a steak. Typical Democratic SNAFU. All told, Lawrence Mischel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, thinks this bill will “create no more than a couple hundred thousand jobs.” I think he’s certifiable for even giving it that much credit.

But frankly, at this point, what’s another $15 billion tossed down Harry Reid’s crapper? Thus, I don’t care at all that Scott Brown voted for this. This was hardly an earth shattering vote. Indeed, even Mitch McConnell couldn’t bring himself to care.

But wait, you say, can’t Dingy Harry trumpet this bill as a massive senate success and thereby achieve his re-election? Are you serious? This bill does nothing. It achieves nothing. Moreover, here is what the bill specifically does not do, which the prior version did: it does not help people or states. . . the two groups you’d think it should help.

Indeed, unlike the $154 billion House version, Reid provides no additional funds for state budgets. . . because he hates them. That means that all those state employees who were kept on the job by the stimulus bill will now lose their jobs. It also does not include an extension for unemployment benefits or a subsidy for COBRA health insurance. . . because he hates the unemployed too.

So yeah, let the Dinge trumpet this achievement, if he's stupid enough to try.


Writer X said...

Andrew, I never understood why this bill was necessary, especially since all the money from the last Stimulus (term debatable) Bill hasn't been spent, never mind that it's been completely ineffective.

I really didn't understand what Reid was doing. More Politicians Gone Wild behavior.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, I think that Reid was trying to look like he was "creating jobs" since jobs are vanishing quicker than Reid's credibility.

I think he wanted a bill that he could take home and say, "here's what I did." Bu the problem with this bill is that the dollars are so low compared to what has been spent that no one will take it seriously. Moreover, no one will actually see a benefit from it, so the public will just toss it on the pile of other pointless Democratic bills that wasted money and helped no one.

Anonymous said...

Andrew: The bill does nothing much at all, as you said. Even the word "billion" is beginning to look less scary compared to the trillions being wasted and the multiple trillions being built up for our children and grandchildren to cope with. So NOW Harry Reid becomes a fiscal conservative? When hell freezes over.

Mostly, they've proved that Congress can waste both our money and our time.

Writer X said...

When the unemployment rate continues to rise, I wonder how many of these folks will take credit for Harry's Bill? What a disaster. A $753 Billion-dollar bill has only resulted in increased unemployment, among other things; why would anyone think another $15B more would help? It's absolutely crazy. Is there something in the water supply?

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, At least they've achieved something. . . ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, I think they're still in "symbolism over substance" mode. Good luck with that!

Anonymous said...

Andrew: Better something than nothing, huh? I suppose they'll pick up a few votes from the union employees who will temporarily benefit before they're back on unemployment in a worsening economy.

BevfromNYC said...

Do you think it's possible that this was just a throw away bill for procedure and the real plan is to adopt the House bill?

I have to say that I had to read your article several times because I kept getting stuck on the $15 Billion bill and the $20 Billion allocation for roads etc. I was never good at math, but even I knew right away that didn't add up right.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I had the same reaction when I first saw the numbers. I kept thinking, "am I reading this wrong?" But apparently, Senate math isn't like regular math.

In terms of the House bill, it wouldn't surprise me. But if they do that, then they need to get 60 votes in the Senate on the House version. I'm not sure Brown (and a few other Republicans who voted yes) would be on-board with that -- and Reid's trickery would give them a valid excuse for voting no, something they did not have this time through.

So, if that's Reid's plan, then he's probably shot himself in the foot.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Bev, I honestly think this was intended as a punishment/insult to Baucus for being too friendly with the Republicans.

Anonymous said...

If a mess of a reconciliation bill gets to the Senate after acceptance by the House, they then face the rule established by their beloved Byrd: Is this a major agreed-upon joint bill with minor budgetary considerations and alterations (allowed for a majority vote) or is it a joint bill with major budgetary considerations (not allowed)? Naturally, I think it's the latter, but right now that determination will be in the hands of the poor Senate Parliamentarian. He will make the determination, either way, then submit it to the President of the Senate to accept or reject. And if anyone thought the Republic wasn't in danger, I remind them that Joe Biden is the President of the Senate.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Agreed. See tomorrow morning's post.

Joel Farnham said...

I thought the most important part about this bill is some Republicans, including Scott Brown, voted it out of committee. I noticed that no one, including Drudge, hesitated to paint Scott Brown as a RINO. I initially felt that he had betrayed us, but then I suspected that I was being manipulated by a compliant media.

This bill still has not passed. Nor is it likely to gain acceptance. About Scott, well...., I know he won't vote for ObamaCare, nor Cap and Trade, nor Card check.

Anonymous said...

Andrew: Looking forward to it.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I agree. I was disappointed when I first heard about this, but then I looked into it and I realized that this really wasn't that big of a deal, and he's been very solid on the important matters, so I wasn't too concerned.

Anonymous said...

Andrew and Joel: I did the same thing, then calmed down. I forgot my own advice in my February 12 post "Republicans Flex Their New-Found Muscles." Although the topic was Democratic nominees to administration positions, the closing sentence of the article is still appropriate: "Scott Brown understands this, and I hope and pray that Republicans, and particularly conservatives, don't decide he is a Benedict Arnold if he votes to confirm a Democratic nominee at some time in the future."

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