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Scott Brown uses his independent voice

Scott Brown joined Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Kit Bond and George Voinovich in voting with the Democrats to allow the first Senate jobs bill -- which is mostly a tax cut for businesses that hire new employees --to come before the Senate for a vote. Ben Nelson voted with the Republicans. You've got to take this as at least partial vindication of Harry Reid's decision to break the jobs bill into small, hard-to-oppose pieces. Though what will happen when the next bill -- which isn't made up entirely of tax cuts -- comes to the floor remains to be seen.

By Ezra Klein  |  February 22, 2010; 6:04 PM ET
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So Reid let them vote first on the parts the GOP might like (tax cuts), and then he'll allow a vote on the progressive aspects?

Why does this convince me further Reid is really a Republican?

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 22, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Klein is nothing if not consistently dishonest. He says the jobs bill "is mostly a tax cut for businesses that hire new employees".

The LA Times reports the tax cuts are projected to "cost" $13 billion.

The bill also deposits $20 billion into a "trust fund" for highways, etc., with another $2.3 billion for loans to states.

Must be the new math. Probably should be dubbed "Progressive Math", built on the premise that all your money belongs to the collective.

Posted by: msoja | February 22, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

See, Ezra, this is what pisses me off about your industry. I don't care about Scott Brown, but almost every article I can find on the bill is about Scott Brown. A slightly more detailed analysis of the bill please. Not that the 6-sentence (roughly!--I don't want to be accused of doing "progressive math" here) "highlights" done by the AP wasn't thoroughly informative, mind you.

Also, I can't open the pdf from the previous post, for some reason.

Posted by: slag | February 22, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Not that Scott Brown is all that interesting, but what interest there is is how a Republican Senator from Massachusetts will behave over the next three years. Will he run for reelection in 2012? Will he go the Sarah Palin route, go full rogue and decamp for Fox News and right-wing stardom after refusing to run for reelection?

2012 is likely to be a better year for Democrats than 2010 (or certainly Jan. 19, 2010), so Brown will have to trim his sails if he wants to have a hope of winning a full term in 2012. Or he may decide that's impossible and his best career prospects are by being a hero to Republicans and the right wing even if that kills his chances for reelection.

This jobs vote bill is an early indicator that he really wants to stay in the Senate for a long time. Be interesting to see what he does. Who knows, if things turn good enough for the Democrats over the next three years, he may do the full Spector.

Posted by: robbins2 | February 22, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse


latimes link please.

All stories I read indicate today's bill is indeed mostly tax cuts.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 22, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse


Klein's veracity and competence is of a kind with the greater maim street media.

Posted by: msoja | February 22, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Add in the incompetence and complete lack of integrity of the Legislative branch of the U.S. government. See if you can find the text of the resolution that was voted on a short time ago.

Posted by: msoja | February 22, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

"The legislation also would renew highway programs through December and deposit $20 billion in the highway trust fund.",0,2791448.story

Posted by: cprferry | February 22, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

With this stupid move, Reid is basically trying to convince Americans that they have passed a bipartisan jobs bill. He also wants to make it look like gvmt isn't broken.

In reality, it wasn't bipartisan and it won't create many jobs.

The tax centerpiece is just another corporate welfare provision (for the most part, it will only help companies that already hired people anyway).

The only other thing this bill does to unaware Americans is help the GOP look like they are helping to create jobs though in reality they are nothing but obstructionists and saboteurs.

The GOP is laughing their butts off at the idiotic Reid for getting this bill passed.

FIRE REID he is a disaster.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 22, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

how did Lamar Alexander vote? With his arguments that the Senate doesn't do the big things well, this slimmed down tax cut-heavy package should have been right in his wheelhouse

Posted by: Quant | February 22, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

well at least its a true jobs bill instead of the mess in the house.

$174 billion and only 2.3% dedicated to private sector jobs.

nancy basically passed another stimulus, labeled it a jobs bill because another stimulus would be VERY unpopular right now. Good politicizing Nancy and good job Ezra of not mentioning this.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 22, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse


even IF the government's numbers are correct (and they're very much in dispute) private sector job growth as estimated by Mark Zandi (a well respected economist btw) would be more cost effective than public sector job growth.

PUBLIC SECTOR: $226,000,000,000 / 3.5 million jobs (ya right)= $64571 per job

PRIVATE SECTOR: $13,000,000,000 / 250,000 jobs = $52000 per job.

If you look at more realistic figures it tilts more towards private sector. Plus while infrastructure jobs are important many of them are not sustainable without continued infusion of monies from government which cannot afford these projects forever without private sector jobs that induce taxes that help to pay for these public sector jobs. Before anyone comments i'm not assuming public sector jobs don't pay taxes just that they don't sustain themselves like private sector jobs.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 22, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Brown cast a vote (if his name had been Wilson, what would the outcome today have been?) that he felt he needed to make in order to win votes the next election. He also broke a logjam.

All the Republican Senators in play this fall will have been in the Senate at least 6 years. They will have to double down on their past records, or else pull off very difficult flip flops in votes to come. Brown has, for his own self-interest, put the incumbent Republicans in a box of their own making.

Posted by: Ron_C | February 23, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

The tax centerpiece is just another corporate welfare provision (for the most part, it will only help companies that already hired people anyway).

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 22, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse


This isn't AT&T or Cisco or Exxon that's getting this money and filling their corporate tills to score more record profits, its SMALL businesses. You know like XYZ Plumbing or ABC Electrical Contractors. Stop making it out to be something its not either on purpose or because you just don't know any better.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 23, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse


Since you are an expert on this bill, why don't you break down the stats for us?

Pls include the number of jobs it will CREATE after today, how many tax breaks corporations will get for jobs already hired in the last year, and how many tax breaks small businesses will get for jobs hired in the last year.

BTW, my opinions are reflected elsewhere in the national media. The tax provisions that Ezra claims is the "most" part of the bill is for jobs already created, not for new jobs created after today.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 23, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

@Lomillialor: "The tax provisions that Ezra claims is the 'most' part of the bill is for jobs already created, not for new jobs created after today."

Well, then, it's about preserving jobs. I'm prone to agree with you that this is not a great bill for job creation. Jobs are, overall, created with there is economic growth.

Conservatives tend to subscribe to the notion that lower taxes, thus more money in the hands of companies and individuals, spurs economic growth. However, minor one-time (or two-time) tax breaks for specific behaviors or expenditures (especially with the tax break barely makes a dent in the cost of the expenditure) is not likely to spur economic growth, or change behaviors. An incentive needs to be strong to change behavior, and most of these tax breaks don't seem to be that compelling.

As Lomillialor noted, it's mostly "corporate welfare"--which, technically, tax cuts aren't because there is an important difference between general tax cuts for any company doing a particular behavior and targeted tax cuts for particular categories of business, or outright checks cut to those businesses by the government, but I digress . . . the reality is, the people who benefit from the tax cut are going to be the people who would do (or have already done) the behavior (hiring) they are trying to incentivize, anyway. So there's no net change in behavior from the tax breaks, and the money these companies enjoy--though nice, I'm sure--isn't generally going to be enough to spur the economy or even create extra jobs at those companies.

But, I hope I'm wrong about that.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 23, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse


Did I ever say I was an "expert" on this bill? I just said that its was wrong of you to paint it as "corporate welfare" as you did. As I mentioned above a well respected economist (Mark Zandi) said he expected it to create approx 250,000 jobs. Who's to know how many it will create and I won't speculate and make up phantom numbers (ala the stimulus) as to how many jobs it will create or save

Just because your opinions are refleted in the national media doesn't make them right.

I would also agree that (as I've seen pointed out) that trying to add jobs without also making sure consumer demand can pay for the products those jobs create is short-sighted too.

I get the feeling if they called it a "stimulus" you'd be all for it.

Its also amazing to me that anything that has the slightest HINT of a Republican idea many liberals will jump up and down against. Its really kind of childish. I look at a bill as to whether it will work and help people first not who sponsored or co-sponsored it. But go ahead keep up the partisan talk. Its really helpful.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 23, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse


I'll disagree with you a bit as I wouldn't call it corporate welfare if it is set to go to small businesses. Will it do that, we'll see. Your local electrical contractor receiving a $1000 SS tax break is different than Exxon/Mobil receiving it.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 23, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse


The devil is in the details.

I specifically said "the tax centerpiece ... is corporate welfare".

My understanding is that tax break is for jobs ALREADY created by ANYONE -- corporations and small businesses alike.

I believe corporations created more jobs in the past year than small businesses.

I also believe Zandt's claims about job creation stats is referring to other parts of the jobs bill, not the tax cuts being touted as the centerpiece of the bill.

So until you can show me that those tax cuts are primarily for small businesses, you should not deign to correct me.

Also, you predicted I would have no problem with this bill if it were instead called a stimulus. Wrong again. Maybe you should stop ASSuming things. I do favor a larger stimulus and jobs bill, but I do not favor the methods Reid uses to push GOP-favored parts of the bills over the progressive-favored parts. It seems like the GOP is getting everything they want without even voting for them, and progressive components keep getting delayed or killed.

Reid is incompetent.

My complaints here are very specific, so please pay attention to them when responding to them, and don't rewrite what I say.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 23, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Ezra -

So when Scott Brown votes w Dems he "uses his independent voice"

But when a few Dems oppose HC reform they're "killing tens of thousands of people"???

Posted by: mbp3 | February 23, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse


Dems are a fractured lot. Many of them, like Nelson, are actually conservatives who would run as Republicans if only they could defeat the GOP candidates they would face in local primaries.

Repubs, however, are a much more cohesive group. They have ideological litmus tests and Rush Limbaugh to report to, for example.

So when a conservative Dem votes with Repubs, it's not really being independant. However, when a Repub votes with Dems on ideological issues such as health care or jobs, it's practically unheard of.

I am glad I could explain this to you.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 23, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse


First off I don't disagree about Reid's incompetence.

Reading comprehension on your part would be nice too:

Hiring tax incentives — Exempts employers from paying the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax this year on newly hired workers that have been unemployed for 60 days or more. Provides additional $1,000 tax credit for workers retained for at least a year. Cost: $13 billion.

ITS NOT DECEMBER ITS FEBRUARY AND THIS WAS STARTED IN JANUARY. So don't go make it seem as if its for people already hired.

plus they have to have been unemployed for at least 60 days and to get the $1000 they need to retain them for at least a year.

Your paranoia seemingly knows no bounds. Not everyone is out to get progressives.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 23, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

@Lomillialor: "Repubs, however, are a much more cohesive group. They have ideological litmus tests and Rush Limbaugh to report to, for example."

That's something you can only think because you are not a Republican. Most Republicans consider the Republicans to be a fractured, and often ineffective lot. And, if the Democrats weren't being so schizophrenic about advancing their agenda, I don't think the Republicans would be managing to do much of anything.

From Scott Brown to New Jersey to Virginia to almost defeating healthcare, this ain't because Republicans are incredibly coherent and highly organized and on message and are doing everything according to Rush Limbaugh. It's because the Democrats, though being in the majority, are even more of an organizational, leaderless mess than the Republicans.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 23, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

"That's something you can only think because you are not a Republican."

No, it's because it's the truth.

I used to be a Republican BTW.

Democrats consistently cross over and vote for major GOP bills more often than the GOP will vote for major Dem bills. Look it up. Nafta, health care, SS, medicare, Iraq War, tax cuts are all examples.

Republicans vote far more consistently with each other. And then how many vetoes did GWBush have to issue? Not many. His first veto was in 2006. That's because they were all in lock-step, or should I say, goose-step.

Don't confuse the process of candidate selection with being fractured. Once the GOP candidates are selected, they all lock arms and never look back

Will Rogers had a famous quote that applies to this issue that shows Democratic disunity has been around for awhile: "I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat."

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 23, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

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