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Senate Democrats readying new jobs package

reiddurbin.JPG

Senate Democrats are getting ready to build another jobs bill:

Senate Democrats are crafting a job creation bill that would boost funding for small businesses, public services, infrastructure projects and energy efficiency programs.

An aide to Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Democrats are looking at proposals in those four main areas. But the aide said that senators have yet to finalize their specific proposals.

Durbin, who is writing the bill with Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), has said the Senate will take up the bill soon after they return later this month from the holiday break.

They are considering new transit and highway spending and efforts to help stave off public employee layoffs, as well as a new tax credit for businesses hiring new workers and a program providing incentives for homeowners to retrofit their homes, according to a source off Capitol Hill.

As of now, we don't know the price tag for this bill and we don't know how the cost is being offset. Legislators remain anxious to avoid charges of deficit spending, economically wrongheaded as that might be. But if you're not going to increase the deficit, you're going to have to find ways to pay for the spending. That means the bill can't be very big, because there's not much money lying around at the moment. And a smaller bill means fewer jobs. But Durbin and Dorgan are smart guys, and the unemployment numbers are very bad. So we'll see what they come up with.

Photo credit: By Jay Mallin/Bloomberg

By Ezra Klein  |  January 8, 2010; 5:56 PM ET
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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Comments

"But Durbin and Dorgan are smart guys..."

You know some time back I think one NH Senator said about Bernanke - "if he is the smartest person on globe, could he not see the bubble" or something to such effect.

So I admire your courage Ezra in complimenting our Congressional leaders.

Would we have been at this point if your statement was true?

Posted by: umesh409 | January 8, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

On second thought, will these Dem Senators introduce 'plain income tax on rich folks' to finance job programs? Let us talk about straight forward 'wealth transfer'.

You see when we want Labor to meekly accept Excise Tax as well as common people, why not tax rich to fund some jobs?

Existing deficit - let us wait till economy comes back to increase the revenue and at that time we can pay it back.

Where are those smart minds? Where is the 'moral compass' of Senators? If time to increase taxes on rich is not now then when? If we wait for Tax Reforms - HCR is our guide which means 2 more years and political blood bath.

Is it not good Politics? Give me break.

Posted by: umesh409 | January 8, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

I think there should be something in this bill for homeless shelters, food banks, libraries and other heated public buildings, & either direct help for public transit or some way for lower-income people to afford the hefty, and ongoing ticket increases. If, as we are frequently being told, we need to cut back on extravagance in a time of austerity, those are the things that need to be more available & dependable. If we're not going to adopt full-employment policies, at least let's do this much.

Posted by: roublen | January 8, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

*****As of now, we don't know the price tag for this bill and we don't know how the cost is being offset. Legislators remain anxious to avoid charges of deficit spending*****

This is just nuts. The sickening weakness of our economy isn't going to be exacerbated at this juncture by more federal borrowing. I hope Democrats in Congress have enough sense not to enact spending cuts to pay for a jobs package. Let Republicans "charge" them with increasing the deficit. Democrats simply have to reply: "Right now, jobs are priority number one." I can't imagine they would lose that debate.

Posted by: Jasper99 | January 8, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

I thought Senators took polling data into consideration. Sure, voters generally want to see deficit reduction, but right now I suspect deficit reduction ranks well below the economy and jobs.

Posted by: JPRS | January 9, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

They will pay for a jobs program the usual way, by adding to the deficit. In an election year, when Democrats in Congress seem most concerned about their jobs, expect them to spend as much as they think is necessary to maintain their strong majorities, especially in the House.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | January 9, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse

The jobs bill" will not be a job bill at all. It will be more political payola to favored groups and will have little to do with jobs at all.....just like the last one. They just call it a 'jobs bill' and make some thin "reasoning" that is way, way out there how this might somehow impact the job market.

How many jobs did the last one create? How much did they spend on NO JOBS? They're idiots and crooks.

Keep these ass-clowns away from the treasury and we'll all be better off. Government doesn't create jobs, the private sector does. Get government out of the way and let the private sector do what you want done.

Posted by: WrongfulDeath | January 9, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

It has been pointed out by Krugman, Yglesias and others that people likely only *say* that they worry about the deficit when they really worried about the economy and *jobs*.

In fact, Krugman has pointed out that people don't really pay attention to the deficit. They don't know if it's increasing or decreasing. See: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/30/if-a-deficit-falls-in-the-forest/

Furthermore, I would point out that most people don't know how to think about the deficit. The absolute size of the deficit doesn't matter as much as the deficit-GDP ratio. As an extreme example, it really wouldn't matter at all if the deficit were increasing at a rate of $1 per year because the economy would grow faster. Despite this fact the Obama administration insisted on a deficit neutral (i.e. fully paid through taxes and/or spending cuts) health reform package even though that package leads to reducing the deficit.

The political world now in existence actually discourages The Congress and President Obama would be smart to focus just on creating jobs without worry about the deficit. They should act boldly and quickly to get the benefit of their actions. If the stimulus takes too long or is too small they will be blamed for a poor economy and for wasting money. I say double down and deficit spend; hit it with a sledge hammer, a BIG one; focus on making everyone's lives noticeably better. The Republicans will complain and blame and vote "No" giving Democrats all responsibility for the action, making people's choice at the polls that much clearer. If people actually cared about the deficit as implied, Reagan wouldn't be admired so much.

Posted by: bcbulger | January 9, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

All of the enthusiastic comments about these plans ignore the blatant corruption that has surfaced in connection with the stimulus and healthcare plans. Why will this one be any different? Rep. Obey, for instance, took care of his son's business in the stimulus bill, to name but one of the many instances of payoffs, nepotism and cronyism. It's not healthy to do all this central planning while ignoring the looting of taxpayer money. See the post on senator Dodd, in which his progressive legislation was praised and barely an objection raised to his now well publicized personal gains.

Posted by: truck1 | January 9, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Durbin and Dorgan may be totally brilliant but the only Senators who matter are named Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson.

Posted by: NS12345 | January 11, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

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