The Associated Press

Scott Brown Helps Democrats Advance Jobs Bill

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan jobs bill (highlights) cleared a GOP filibuster on Monday with critical momentum provided by the Senate’s newest Republican, Scott Brown of Massachusetts.

The 62-30 tally to advance the measure to a final vote on Wednesday gives both President Obama and Capitol Hill Democrats a much-needed victory — even though the measure in question is likely to have only a modest boost on hiring.

Brown and four other Republicans broke with GOP leaders to advance the measure. Most other Republicans opposed the bill because Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada stripped out provisions they had sought and wouldn’t allow them to try to restore them.

The bill featured four provisions that enjoyed sweeping bipartisan support, including a measure exempting businesses hiring the unemployed from Social Security payroll taxes through December and giving them another $1,000 credit if new workers stay on the job a full year.

Though employers seldom make hiring decisions based on tax breaks, economist Mark Zandi says the measure could potentially create 250,000 new private-sector jobs. That’s less than 4 percent of the 8.4 million jobs lost in the recession.

Joining Brown in voting to break the filibuster were two moderate New England Republicans, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, and two retiring GOP senators, Kit Bond of Missouri and George Voinovich of Ohio. Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska voted “nay” and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., was absent.

Reid’s bill is a far smaller measure than Mr. Obama’s $862 billion economic stimulus bill enacted a year ago. It’s also significantly smaller than a rival bipartisan bill unveiled earlier this month by two senior senators.

The legislation also would renew highway programs through December and deposit $20 billion in the highway trust fund.

“I came to Washington to be an independent voice, to put politics aside and to do everything in my power to help create jobs for Massachusetts families,” said Brown, whose election last month gave Republicans the 41st vote that could sustain GOP filibusters. “This Senate jobs bill is not perfect … but I voted for it because it contains measures that will help put people back to work.”

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, said he voted for the bill because the highway spending will create jobs and help states pay for important projects.

“If we don’t do this we’re going to miss the construction season, and this is an area where you absolutely create jobs,” Voinovich said.

The White House said Monday that the administration strongly supports the bill but that it wants more economic recovery measures. Among Mr. Obama’s jobs proposals are a $250 payment to Social Security recipients, $25 billion to help cash-strapped states and $30 billion in Wall Street bailout money redirected to help community banks lend to small businesses.

“It’s a good first step,” Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said. “There’s no doubt we need to do more.”

Republicans and some Democrats were unhappy that Reid abruptly dumped about $70 billion worth of tax breaks for businesses and individuals, help for the unemployed and additional Medicare payments to doctors from a compromise measure unveiled earlier this month by Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman and ranking Republican on the Finance Committee.

In addition to the hiring tax incentives and highway funding, the bill would extend a tax break for small businesses buying new equipment and modestly expand an initiative that helps state and local governments finance infrastructure projects.

The larger Finance panel bill included about $33 billion in popular tax breaks, including an income tax deduction for sales and property taxes and a business tax credit for research and development, would be extended through 2010. Those ideas have sweeping support among lawmakers and have been routinely renewed for years.

Business groups and economist Zandi of Moody’s say companies are unlikely to hire workers just to receive a tax break. That means most of the tax benefits would go to companies that would have hired new workers anyway.

“Obviously it’s not very efficient,” Zandi said. “It’s something worthwhile doing as an insurance policy but it’s something one would want to do in any other circumstance.”

Highlights of bipartisan jobs legislation that cleared a GOP filibuster on Monday:

  • Hiring tax incentives — Exempts employers from paying the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax this year on newly hired workers that have been unemployed for 60 days or more. Provides additional $1,000 tax credit for workers retained for at least a year. Cost: $13 billion.
  • Highway programs — Reauthorizes through the end of 2010 the highway trust fund to use gasoline taxes to help state and local governments pay for highway and transit projects. Deposits an additional $20 billion into the trust fund.
  • Equipment write-offs — Permits businesses to write off equipment as a business expense rather than depreciating them over time. Cost: $35 million.
  • Build America Bonds — Expands the Build America Bonds program to subsidize the interest costs of bonds to include certain school and energy projects. Cost: $2.3 billion.
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  • Rich

    As a conservative, this is fine. If a bill makes sense, vote for it. That’s what bipartisanship is all about. Just like when Democrats joined Republicans to block the health care bill. That was a bipartisan effort also. Bipartisanship can be used to push a bill through or to block it.

  • cast off with my anchor


    And I look forward to a dialogue among Americans to get healthful industry to work–and healthy foods (so much ymminess, if you disagree, look for this–promise you it’s there in abundance), transportation, farming techniques, eco planning all in an AFFORDABLE FORM.

    Create jobs using health creating industries. Stipulating that they bring the price forward to more and more people.

    Stop making money the power holder. Stop allowing the monied to layer privelege upon privelege. I want to hear about learnedness, earnestness, local knowledge, other ways of earning a voice.

  • Alfred Cox

    It’s a great break for businesses and industries who are really hurting and have a need for new growth to stay alive. But industries and business who’ve had time to realize the excesses they’ve carried before the massive layoffs, I hope will take advantage of the new tax incentive to create jobs that are sustainable and can help society in general.

  • cast off with my anchor

    One issue which distorts how we evaluate our economy. ‘The Economy’ is evaluated using old tools with a particular orientation.

    If we count the real costs and benefits of industries and business, we would see a compoletely different appraisal and outlook. It’s like we are wearing the glasses of another generation, the glasses of a particular class: (help me out, I think it’s) business itself.

    But life isn’t business. You could take all the businesses in the world and throw them in a bowl. No amount of stirring, cajoling, smushing, would hold them together in a cohesive society, a cohesive community. Life is not equal to business.

    So how is it that we evaluate the status of our country’s well-being based on business values? Business has existed for a long time in one way or another (definetely in different forms from now, but…), but it is part of life, it supports it.

    Let’s support business to better supoort life by looking at it from that point of view. How well does it do that?

    Remember that the GDP is a malleable figure, the definition of it, of how it is figured is changed to suit the times and the system. Has been so. Now?

  • captainkona

    LOL, idiots.

    How is it bi-partisan when there’s a Republican filibuster?

    Brownie screwed you Tea Bag Fags and I’m laughing at you. Republicans are STILL against prosperity for the average American. Don’t try and paint yourselves any other way.

  • Scott

    It still seems to me that having two defined parties is just hurting us. There’s so much stubborn refusal to even consider something because it came from the other party that nothing ever really gets done. It feels like the country is being run by red sox vs. yankee fans.

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