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Jobless aid, tax bill hits Senate roadblock again

Jobless aid, tax bill hits Senate roadblock again
By ANDREW TAYLOR and STEPHEN OHLEMACHER Associated Press Writers The Associated Press

Thursday, June 17, 2010 9:07 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — In another stinging setback for President Barack Obama and Democrats controlling Congress, the Senate on Thursday rejected long-sought legislation to provide stimulus spending and a reprieve for doctors about to get hit with a big cut in their Medicare payments.

The failed measure, killed by a GOP filibuster, would have provided further jobless aid for the long-term unemployed, $24 billion in aid to cash-strapped state governments and the renewal of dozens of popular tax breaks for businesses and individuals.

Less than a week ago, Obama reissued a plea for more stimulus spending as insurance against another recession. But the measure instead fell victim to election-year anxiety over huge federal deficits despite being pared back by Democratic leaders.

The 56-40 vote late Thursday fell four votes short of the 60 required to break the GOP filibuster. Not a single Republican supported the measure even though nine GOP senators had supported even more costly legislation in a procedural vote just three months ago. Ben Nelson of Nebraska was the only Democrat to vote with Republicans to filibuster the measure. Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who caucuses with Democrats, also joined in the filibuster.

Efforts to woo a handful of Republican moderates like Maine's Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe flamed out despite daylong efforts and a move by Democrats on Wednesday to trim the bill. Further cuts were contemplated, though the talks were closely held.

"We're not going to give up," Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said. But there's no clear path forward for the bill, which has bedeviled lawmakers for months.

There was some urgency to pass the jobless measure since by the end of the week, more than 900,000 people out of work for more than six months will have been ineligible to apply for continued benefits, according to the latest Labor Department estimates. And doctors face a scheduled 21 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements effective Friday.

"Tonight, every single Republican voted to give doctors a 21 percent pay cut," Reid said.

In fact, efforts to pass a stand-alone measure to forestall the Medicare cuts could be revived as early as Friday. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., appeared amenable to a compromise floated late Thursday that would give doctors six months of relief from the Medicare cuts, accompanied by measures to ensure the payments wouldn't add to the deficit.

The broader measure long had been considered a must-pass bill since failure to pass it would cut off jobless benefits, force about 30 states to rewrite their budgets to make up for lost federal aid and impose the Medicare cut on doctors. Republicans supported many of the policies in the bill but began making ever more stringent demands to pare back its deficit cost.

On Wednesday, after losing a test vote by a wide margin, top Democrats cut the measure's deficit impact by $25 billion — to $55 billion over the upcoming decade — and made a host of changes aimed at winning over GOP moderates and wayward Democrats. They included easing proposed tax increases on venture capitalists and small businesses organized as so-called S corporations.

"It's moving in the right direction but it's not there yet," Collins said.

Democrats were clearly frustrated after a full day of talks with elusive Republicans.

"To be honest, given the attitude over on the other side of the aisle, I don't know that there's anything that'll get a vote," said Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., who just Wednesday had serenely predicted the measure would advance easily.

Republicans instead pressed an alternative plan to extend unemployment benefits and aid to doctors but to pay for them with spending cuts to reduce the budget deficit. It was easily killed on a mostly party-line vote.

The chaos in the Senate overshadowed successful efforts by the House to pass a bill to create a $30 billion government fund that would be available to community banks to increase lending to small businesses.

House Democrats projected that banks would use the fund to leverage up to $300 billion in loans to small businesses, helping to loosen tight credit markets. Republicans called the bill another bank bailout that would do little to increase lending to small businesses.

The bill passed by a vote of 241-182

Congressional Democrats began the year with an aggressive agenda of passing a series of bills designed to create jobs. One has become law, offering tax breaks to companies that hire unemployed workers. Others stalled as lawmakers, after hearing from angry voters, became wary of adding to the national debt, which stands at $13 trillion.

The White House has kept urging Congress to act on new stimulus measures, with Obama warning that "hundreds of thousands" of state and local government jobs could be lost without $24 billion in Medicaid money to help states balance their budgets.

Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday, "This is not a time to take — to use the metaphor — take our foot off the accelerator. We still need to continue to create jobs and spur job growth now."

Original Article can be found at:

10 Responses
1301089 tn?1290666571
The Democrats have no room for griping on this one.  They were in on the original legislation that started this mess.  And they've made no move to fix it.

Also, read my teleprompter, there is no more money!!  My grandchildren will be paying this off.  I hope the doctors do not drop their Medicare patients.  But to blame the Republicans on this is a bit disingenuous on this.  The Democrats have had a clear majority for a while.  Why didn't they take care of this before now?  They could have made a permanent change.  The fact is they didn't.  And now they've thrown the country into an abyss of never ending debt.  And the taxpayers are getting a little hot under the collar.

So far as complaining we need more stimulus money for job creation, the past stimulus was an abysmal failure for creating jobs in the private sector.  They added quite a few temporary jobs to the government.  But creating temporary government jobs does not equal jobs in the full time private sector.  Even Democrats are running for cover over the jobs created count fiasco!!

Why don't they take all the unemployed who want to work down to the Gulf to work on the clean up.  On BP's tab.  Room and board included along with regular pay.  I bet quite a few would take them up on it.  Or perhaps use the funds already allocated for the border wall construction.  Get workers who are presently unemployed to work that. Funds have already been allocated and will not affect the deficit.  Hadrian's Wall would be a good construction model to follow.

I'm sorry for the people this will hurt.  But the Democrats dug us in this hole.  And frankly unless they stop the spending the abyss will get  deeper and deeper. On them lays the blame alone.  I hope they get the message in November.
Avatar universal
Hmm.  My perspective on this is pretty much that the two major parties did this together.  Rampant corruption and pork barreling that has at times to literally included criminal events, wasteful spending such as planes, and subs, and aircraft carriers that military says do not fit their missions.  Grants to companies like citibank to upgrade their computers etc..

This smelly ball of refuse has been building since the Reagan years when corruption really started being blatant enough and no one cared.
377493 tn?1356502149
I am not going to comment on whether or not this is a good thing.  To be honest, I don't understand it completely.  I have to say this though (then I will duck and run...lol).  I have watched with interest several senate votes over the last year.  I have yet to see a single vote take place where a single Republican voted yes.  They all seem to vote no on everything the Dems and Obama attempt.  So it's hard now to really understand whether it's a legitimate no, or just another GOP attempt to block everything Obama tries to do just because he's Obama.  Again, not saying whether or not this was a good thing, but wondering if it would have mattered?  
649848 tn?1534633700
It seems that too many issues tend to get packed into any single piece of legislation.  Why can't they sort of stick to a single issue?  Seems like they come up with a bill, in which part of it, makes sense, but then they add in all the other issues, that don't pertain, which makes the whole bill garbage.

I'm not going to point a finger in only one direction because these things have been going on for years; I will say that if the Dems really *wanted* to fix some of these issues, they could have done so by now, since they are in control of congress.

But, I've said this before and I'll say it again --- the bottom line is: you can't spend your way out of a depression/recession.  At some point, the piper will demand payment.
Avatar universal
Personally I am ofthe thought that only a certain amount of laws should exist at a given time and if a politician wants to pass a law that they should have to get rid of an existing law.
649848 tn?1534633700
Hey that works for me!!!
535822 tn?1443976780
No money guys read my lips unless its being grown in the WH garden .....nada nothing our grandkids will be paying ...More stimulous    where from  .....does anyone on this forum know ???
585414 tn?1288941302
I don't see any direct government based efforts that are working to end the recession although there could be. I have noticed that when laws are passed there is always a give and take among the two sides except instead of different laws being passed at the same time, unrelated laws are combined into one law, thus making it difficult to separate the issues and there is always one law that is in the interest of a specific politician which can be on the national level but it also can be on a state wide level. Legislation should be on the issue it is addressing, in this case the economy, but politicians in general often have a sense of self gain. I don't see that as likely to change.
Avatar universal
Lets cut off all aid, all tuition assistance and keep feeding the banks.  Let's also reduce the military so we have more unemployed soldiers.

Always did wonder what a revolution would look like from the inside. I figure after you remove a government maybe do what Shakespeare said to do to the attorneys you have about 15 years of general chaos, and about 30 years of renewed creativity and scientific renaissance.

About two economic collapses  and then you move from there.
Avatar universal
The stimulus bills that were passed under bush and Obama had the biggest amounts of pork barreling for both parties in the history of our country, if that's any indicator.
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