Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is reportedly having a bit of trouble rounding up the votes to begin debate on a $15 billion jobs bill because (surprise, surprise), Republicans have threatened to filibuster. This problem has become further complicated because Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has been diagnosed with cancer that, while treatable, will force him to miss the vote that Reid has planned for Monday.
Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) had been dancing back and forth on whether or not she would support the Reid bill. Yesterday, she finally relented and said that she would vote for cloture, but lamented that an earlier $85 billion bill negotiated by Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was scrapped, as in her opinion it would have done more in terms of job creation:
“I do not think Arkansans want us to stop at a ‘slimmed down’ effort to put people back to work,” Lincoln said in her statement. “Sen. Reid’s alternative does contain provisions I support, but I see no reason we cannot move forward on the Baucus-Grassley measure, which does more.”
Reid dumped the Baucus/Grassley bill because, first, it was full of tax measures that have nothing to do with job creation; and second, Baucus and Grassley had also come to an agreement that a huge cut in the estate tax would come up for a vote. In fact, they called agreement to consider the estate tax “essential to completing action” on the jobs bill.
Everyone across the spectrum — from business groups, to economists, to Republican members of Congress — said that the extra provisions weren’t about job creation at all. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) admitted as much, saying that “all of that has to be done, but it does not create one job.”
As I’ve pointed out before, there was no reason for Reid to allow the GOP to hold a modest bill hostage, particularly when it came to cutting the estate tax, which is a long-time conservative goal that is unrelated to job creation. But Lincoln is also a big proponent of cutting the estate tax to the tune of $250 billion over ten years, 99 percent of which would go to benefit multi-millionaires.
There are plenty of ways in which the Reid bill could be improved to increase the number of jobs that it would create. But the proposals that Baucus and Grassley negotiated have nothing to do with that, despite what Lincoln claims.