Senate's Puny Jobs Bill Is More Proof That 'Bipartisanship' Accomplishes Little
Five Republican Senators joined most of the Democratic caucus to forge the necessary 60-vote supermajority allowing the Senate's first jobs bill of the year to advance.
Is this a cause for celebration? Is this proof that a 59-seat Democratic caucus can actually function despite Republican obstructionism?
Well, let's look at what was actually accomplished. How little was actually accomplished.
While we need to create 402,000 jobs a month for three years just to dig out of the jobs hole created by the recession, the only thing new in this bill is a small tax credit for businesses that hire the unemployed, which in a best-case estimate would yield about 28,000 jobs a month.
There was very little in the bill for infrastructure investment, nothing to help state governments avoid mass layoffs, nothing to help the unemployed stay afloat while we wait for the jobs to come.
Sure, getting this scrap of a bill passed is better than passing nothing. But is today's bipartisan vote the beginning of anything remotely like a constructive working relationship?
All we know that a few Republicans will vote with Democrats for a Republican tax-cutting idea that is too small to solve the problem.
Last year, we learned that a smattering of Republicans would join with Democrats to pass a Recovery Act, but only after it was shrunk down to make it too small to solve the problem.
I don't begrudge Democratic leaders who continue to try. Sometimes people can surprise, like Sen. Lindsey Graham on climate and clean energy, not to mention the eight Republicans that allowed a carbon cap bill to clear the House.
It never hurts to talk.
It only hurts to talk endlessly.
It only hurts to allow a futile chase for superficial bipartisanship to limit our possibilities and prevent us from solving problems.
So let's be thankful that there remain a few Republicans who have some interest in legislating instead of constant obstructing.
But let's also recognize that if all bipartisanship produces are bills that fall short, bills like this one, all bipartisanship will give us is failure.