Today, the Senate (finally) invoked cloture on a bill that provides states with $26 billion in funding for Medicaid and to prevent mass layoffs of teachers. These two streams of funding have been added to — and subsequently cut from — bill after bill, as conservatives objected to their cost, just as they’ve objected to every spending measure that has been suggested to help alleviate some of the pain of the Great Recession for the lower- and middle-class.
Initially, the bill that was voted on today added $5 billion to the deficit. But it was tweaked to include larger spending offsets, and according to the Congressional Budget Office, it now decreases the deficit by $1.3 billion over ten years through cuts to food stamps and closing corporate tax loopholes that allow multinationals to claim domestic tax credits.
As Steve Benen put it, “for Republicans who claim to want to improve the economy, but not at the expense of the deficit, there were no excuses — Dems offered a modest, sensible bill, which would save jobs, help struggling states, all without adding to the deficit.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) yesterday said “this amendment meets every test Republicans claim to be concerned about.”
And two Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) — did indeed vote to invoke cloture and end the ongoing filibuster. The rest of the Republican caucus, however, voted no. That’s 38 Republican senators who voted against a deficit reducing jobs bill. (Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) didn’t vote.)
As David Dayen pointed out, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) authored a fully paid for state aid bill that was “substantially similar to this,” yet he still voted no. At this point, everyone should stop taking at face value the notion that Republicans really want small spending measure to pass, but only if they’re “paid for.” This vote clearly puts the lie to that assertion.
Now, the cuts made to the food stamp program in order to pay for the bill are unfortunate. And in the larger sense, there is simply no reason to be offsetting measures to boost the economy, spur job creation, or bolster the social safety net now, as they have little effect on the long-term structural deficit but can make a huge difference in combating the effects of the Great Recession. But the fact remains that 38 Republicans senators voted today to filibuster a jobs bill that also reduces the deficit (which was also a vote to preserve corporate tax loopholes).