The Senate passed a $15 billion jobs bill today with 70 votes. Twelve Republicans voted for the measure, and Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson voted against it. I'm legitimately surprised that some sort of jobs bill passed the Senate so quickly, so Harry Reid gets high marks for speed. As for the bill's effectiveness, I'm less impressed.
Two weeks ago, I predicted that the jobs bill would follow a familiar storyline: Republicans obstruct, Democrats dither while the public sours over more Washington partisanship, and a weak bill struggles toward passage. Turns out I was wrong on the details and right about the conclusion. Harry Reid tore apart the Baucus/Grassley $85 billion jobs bill, extracted its beating heart (the payroll tax hiring credit), threw it to the Senate floor, and said: Vote on this. Good new is: Republicans didn't obstruct; Democrats didn't dither; the public didn't have a chance to sour. Bad news is: if this is the end of 2010 jobs stimulus, it kinda stinks:
By the CBO's count, $15 billion could create the equivalent of 120,000 and 270,000 full-time jobs for one year. That's not chump change. But the country would need 200,000 new jobs created each month for the next seven years to hit 5 percent unemployment by 2017. We're not talking about a game changing policy. Its impact on employment -- like the bipartisan gesture that helped
move it to a final vote[pass it]-- will be small and likely without consequence.
Procedural reform coda: Tim Ferholz notes that eight Republican senators voted to block discussion of the jobs bill and then voted for it, which supports the argument that the filibuster is increasingly used as a way to delay legislation rather than protect the interests of the minority party.