Jobs Bill, R.I.P.

A Democratic-backed jobs and economic relief bill collapsed in the Senate on Thursday after failing for the third time to break through a wall of Republicans who rejected repeated entreaties to join in advancing the $100 billion-plus package, including aid for cash-strapped states and the unemployed. [Politico]

We gather today to mourn the passing of the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Bills, also known as the jobs bill, also known as the 2010 stimulus, also known as a symbol of Washington's noble desire to kill unemployment benefits to shave 0.3 percent off our 10-year debt burden.

AJCTLB, you had your faults. Starting with that name. American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Bill. The tip of the tongue takes a lubberly tumble to tap at twelve, on the Bill. Grammatically, what a mess. American Jobs, modified noun. Closing Tax Loopholes, gerund. Parallelism, like stimulus, is dead in Washington.

Your faults were substantive, as well. You contained multitudes, contradicted yourself. Tax benefits for NASCAR tracks, and rum merchants, and Indian reservations. These were not worthy of a bill for American jobs, and their folly exposed you to accusations of wastefulness from the right.

But at your heart, there was much to admire. There were jobless insurance extensions for 1.2 million people whose benefits have been cut off. There were Medicaid infusions to protect the poor and elderly. There was additional relief for states writing new budgets that would require hundreds of billions in layoffs, tax increases and benefits cuts. Born as an unwieldy behemoth months ago, you withered under negotiations into relatively lean state- and family-budget supporting machine. Your price tag fell from $140 billion to $100 billion, down to $50 billion, $40 billion... It was not enough.

Today, your price can only be measured in the things your failure allows. Hundreds of thousands of jobless families will lose their benefits before autumn. Hundreds of thousands of public employees will see their jobs threatened. The president goes to Toronto this weekend to sell the idea more economic stimulus -- that is, your corpse. You can put a pretty ribbon on a dead cat, but it takes a particular skill to find a market for it.

Jobs bill, we hardly knew ye. Let us remember why you died: so that we might spare 0.3 percent of this decade's debt. Zero-point-three percent shall be your legacy! Our inheritance will be pain in vain.

Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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