Senate GOP Blocks Jobs Bill for Vets
My last column was a plea for Republican legislators who were willing to compromise to make laws to step forward. There was some feedback putting blame on Democrats as well. See MCJ Column Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?
That may be true, I don’t think so, but it’s possible because we haven’t seen any legislative activity to allow any empirical observation. The reason I think the Republicans are at fault is that Democrats and the White House continually put out bills that fail to get enough Republican support to even get into a position for debate to ensue.
The 111th Congress; the one seated January 3, 2009, the one that had a Democratic House majority, passed some 400 bills that the Senate would not hear. The Senate, even though it too was dominated by Democrats, could not overcome the 60 vote threshold demanded by the filibuster happy Republicans. All of those bills died a quiet death when the 112th Congress, the one led by newly elected Republican, mostly Tea Party Representatives, took the oath in early 2011.
I have been criticized for looking deep into history for support of my positions–I’ll try to do better by citing a defeated bill from just last week. A column headline from the September 20 Las Vegas Review Journal read, “Senate GOP blocks jobs bill for vets.” (Can you tell I liked the title?)
President Obama introduced legislation to send veterans to work upon their return from active duty. This is not a new idea. It was crafted after FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps, a link in restoring the economy during the Great Depression.
Veterans would be hired to preserve and restore national parks and other federal, state, and local areas. They could also be hired as cops and firefighters. All of these jobs are within the areas in which these men and women have been trained during their military service. They would need little more to walk into good paying, career track jobs.
This is a double dip win–more jobs filled with military vets to boot. What on earth could possibly go wrong? The GOP defeated the bill by two votes. The Senate came up two votes shy of sending it on to the House with a mostly partisan vote. As has become the norm, a three-fifths majority was required to overcome the Republicans’ procedural objection.
I am, however, proud to report that both of our Nevada Senators voted for the bill.
The “procedural objection” was to the $10 billion price tag over five years. The objection was that this is a new program that would supposedly increase the debt. That expense amounts to $200 million a year. We are so desensitized by hearing the B word and the T word used with money amounts that a mere $200 million sounds like pocket change–an amount Scrooge McDuck would use to light his cigar.
It isn’t pocket change; it is a lot of money. The reality is that this bill would pay for itself. It would get people working, off welfare, and into jobs for which taxes would be collected. Pay out $200 million today and get the money back in a year due to not sending welfare checks plus greater collections by the taxman.
The “procedural objection” was hogwash.
What was the real objection? The bill originated in the White House. The Republicans will not support any activity that will give the administration a success story even if it means our returning service people have to go even longer without jobs. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has made that crystal clear.
They should be ashamed!
I stand by my statement that it is mainly the Republicans who do not wish to or do not know how to compromise to forge laws out of bills. Democrats have put forth a ton of legislation similar to this veterans’ jobs bill that would have sailed through any other Congress. Republicans block simply because they can–either with their House majority or their Senate filibuster threats.
Our veterans do not need to be thrown into the mess of this slowly recovering economy. If this bill were to pass, they would not become part of the problem, rather part of the solution. There have been other jobs bills to repair infrastructure–each meeting a similar demise. The painfully slow recovery, and have no doubt that a recovery is underway, is much slower and more damaging due to Republican legislators who refuse to do their jobs.