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Wonkbook: Jobs bill fails again; DISCLOSE Act passes House; Reid's climate strategy

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Rough day yesterday for Senate Democrats' -- and for the unemployed -- as the $100 billion bill extending unemployment insurance and supporting state budgets once again failed in the Senate. The bill, though mostly paid for, would've added about $30 billion to the deficit, which gave Republicans all the excuse they needed to block it. Looking forward to other legislation that Republicans would like to avoid voting for, Harry Reid is expected to try and pass a climate bill by wrapping it in legislation meant to address the BP oil spill.

Meanwhile, the House did its normal thing and continued to pass legislation: Yesterday, the compromise version of the DISCLOSE Act squeaked through, complete with the NRA-exemption. Watch also for a final deal on financial reform today, and a GDP revision from the Commerce Department.

It's Friday, which means we've only got three more days till Monday! Welcome to Wonkbook.

Top Stories

Republicans and Ben Nelson successfully filibustered the latest version of the Senate jobs bill, reports Lori Montgomery: "Emergency jobless benefits, which provide up to 99 weeks of income support, expired June 2. Since then, more than 1.2 million people have had their checks cut off, according to estimates by the Labor Department. That number is expected to rise to more than 2 million people by the time Congress returns from its week-long break. Unless Congress acts, the program would phase out entirely by the end of October."

John Kerry: “This is one of the worst moments I’ve seen in 25 years in the United States Senate. In times of economic trouble, our country expects Democrats and Republicans to pull together and do the basics. Now, after eight weeks of debate and after every effort to make changes and find common ground, the Minority Leader has again found a way to unify his caucus to block legislation that extends unemployment benefits, creates jobs and provides hundreds of millions of dollars in desperately needed assistance for states...The Senate has to do better than this."

Scott Brown: “Increasing the deficit and raising taxes is not what Americans are looking for from their elected leaders in Washington. I cannot support the debt extenders bill because it still includes tens of billions in tax increases and still includes tens of billions in deficit spending."

The House voted 219-206 for the NRA-exempting version of the DISCLOSE Act, with three dozen Dems voting no: http://bit.ly/dzbi38

Harry Reid will tack the climate bill onto bipartisan legislation overhauling offshore drilling oversight, report Coral Davenport and Darren Samuelsohn: "Reid plans to build the floor package around a bill fast-tracked for approval next week in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee that would impose new safety and environmental rules and increase oversight of oil companies doing offshore exploration. Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chairman and ranking member on the committee, respectively, introduced the legislation together on Monday, with plans to amend it next week with more oil spill ideas from Sens. Menendez, Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.)."

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Noam Scheiber says the race to replace Peter Orszag is down to Gene Sperling and Laura Tyson: http://bit.ly/bEq6mq

Music tinkering interlude: An app to give any song a swing tempo.

Still to come: Halliburton and Transocean try to squirm away from BP; some Senators want to jack up estate tax rates; an immigration reform backer throws in the towel; and a bear chills in a hot tub. Oh, and Wonkbook has a new section!

Energy

No one knows Lindsey Graham's real reason for pulling support for a climate bill, reports Darren Samuelsohn: "Some see GOP leadership pulling Graham’s strings, essentially yanking him back just days before he planned to introduce a bill with Kerry, Lieberman and a large coalition of energy companies, environmentalists, retired military brass and religious leaders. Others see tea party politics back in South Carolina, where incumbent Republicans are losing their jobs and Sarah Palin is anointing a new face for the party in gubernatorial nominee Nikki Haley."

Non-BP participants in the oil spill are trying to limit their liability, report David Hilzenrath and Kimberly Kindy: "Halliburton, a project contractor, says it followed instructions from the well owner, a group led by BP. Transocean, which leased the rig to BP, says it was liable only for surface spills -- not those emanating from the sea bottom. Anadarko Petroleum, a venture partner, implies that it may be off the hook because BP likely engaged in 'gross negligence or willful misconduct.'"

BP's Bob Dudley is taking on the task of repairing the company's image: http://bit.ly/dtCTSl

The administration is citing a study purporting to show that climate skeptics aren't respected in their fields. It shows no such thing, writes Michael Levi: "The authors of the paper are right that the world is running dangerous risks with the climate system. They are right to be angry at those who claim that climate change is a hoax, and at those in the media who give them a platform to confuse the public. But the way to confront those skeptics is to show that they're wrong-as many dedicated climate scientists have done, again and again. Hyping this paper, instead, simply reinforces the dangerous perception that climate activists will credulously push any news that might further their case."

Muppets interlude: OK Go has a staring contest with Animal, while Zach Galifianakis and Ira Glass watch.

Economy/FinReg

Bernie Sanders, along with Tom Harkin, Sherrod Brown, and Sheldon Whitehouse, is proposing a more steeply progressive estate tax, reports Laura Sanders: "Under the proposal, as in 2009, the exemption would be $3.5 million for an individual, or as much as $7 million for a couple, with a tax rate of 45%. But estates with taxable assets between $10 million and $50 million would pay a 50% rate, and estates valued above $50 million would pay 55%. A further 10% surtax would apply to assets above $500 million."

Obama's economic policy team runs on conflict, reports Caren Bohan: "Blunt, brash, brainy and occasionally self-mocking. Larry Summers, the White House economic adviser, is all of these things. In a career spanning academia, government and finance, he has rubbed some people the wrong way and infuriated others. So when President Barack Obama named him director of the National Economic Council, skeptics could be forgiven for wondering how Summers would fit in with the 'No Drama Obama' management style. Eighteen months later, the question persists."

Housing experts are denouncing Fannie Mae's new rules on mortgage defaults as needlessly cruel: http://nyti.ms/awcZjZ

Even before FinReg passes, new state and federal laws are upping consumer financial protections, reports Sudeep Reddy: "On July 1, Arizona will force changes on the state's 595 payday-loan stores-outfits that make high-interest loans against future paychecks-that could effectively put them out of business. Wisconsin banned small loans backed by car titles that led many people to lose their vehicles. Arkansas, Maine and New York joined other states in putting curbs on tax preparers who offer costly loans against expected tax refunds. The federal government, meanwhile, is for the first time requiring that lenders verify a borrower's income and assets before issuing a home loan."

Mortgage rates are at an all-time low, with no lending bump to show for it: http://bit.ly/cTP1SI

Blanche Lincoln is blocking attempts at a compromise on derivatives, report Meredith Shiner and Carrie Budoff Brown: "At a leadership meeting, top Democrats told her the language was causing vote problems in the House, but she had no plans to budge, Lincoln told POLITICO Wednesday night. 'I like what we got,' Lincoln said. 'I’m always open to listening to people in terms of what their concerns are and suggestions are, but I do want to see a strong bill.'"

Grassley is backing Lincoln on derivatives reform, reports Victoria McGrane: http://bit.ly/azjTn5

Bears, bears, bears interlude: A bear hangs out in a hot tub.

Domestic Policy

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a major backer of immigration reform, has conceded the votes aren't there this Congress, reports Molly Hooper: "'There are an insufficient number of Democratic votes to pass this in the Senate or in the House. I’ve said it. There are an insufficient number. We are 102 strong, we are 102 commitment, but we are insufficient,' Gutierrez said."

Michael Bloomberg is leading a group of mayors and businesspeople pushing for immigration reform: http://bit.ly/9OwhNk

Utah is moving forward with health care reform even as it sues to stop it, reports Anna Wilde Mathews: "Yet, on Thursday, Gov. Gary R. Herbert announced a step towards its implementation: Utah will join 29 other states and the District of Columbia in running its own insurance pool to cover high-risk people. Other states let the federal government handle the program, concerned they would have to pay for it if they exhausted their federal funding."

The House has sent the "doc fix" to the White House: http://politi.co/ac15DG

Tom Harkin is hinting card check legislation may come up for a vote during the lame duck session of Congress: http://bit.ly/bnlUZy

Analysis and Opinion

Noah Feldman argues that the Supreme Court needs a new liberal philosophy that takes economic changes seriously: "The great economic and political challenges of our present decade - salvaging and fixing financial institutions, delivering health care, protecting the environment - have major constitutional dimensions. They require us to determine the limits of government power and the extent to which the state can impinge on collective and individual freedoms. Progressive constitutional thinkers, so skilled in arguing about social and civil rights, are out of practice in addressing such structural economic questions."

Howard Gleckman writes that the home buyer's tax credit failed exactly as it was predicted to fail: "The hardest bit to swallow is not so much that the homebuyer tax credit is a boondoggle. It is that it was a totally predictable waste of money. Economists warned Congress in 2008 that the credit would do little more than shift timing decisions by a few months. But lawmakers ignored the advice again and again. Remarkably, the Senate may be about to give buyers still more time to close on homes they put contracts on before April 30. That way, they can squeeze the last few dollars out of a failed credit."

Daniel Gross wonders why Ben Bernanke doesn't seem to care about unemployment: "First, it could be that Bernanke and the Fed are simply exhausted.…The Fed used up all its resources saving the system. Now it's time for the political system and the private sector to do their thing. Second, it could be a failure of imagination. In recent years, Bernanke and the Federal Reserve have proved themselves to be poor predictors of how big macroeconomic trends-low interest rates, unregulated subprime lending, the rampant use of derivatives-can have negative social, economic, and political impacts."

Health care reform will change the health care you have - and that's okay, writes Kate Pickert: The new regulations, after all, are designed to protect consumers. If job-based plans have to change - and are not dropped by employers - they will do so in ways that limit what workers have to pay out of pocket and what insurers can refuse to cover.…Plus, it's not as though the employer-based insurance market is reliable and stable in its current form. Most employees don't have any control over the structure of their health insurance."

Ethanol may not have much environmental benefits, reports Erica Gies: "Corn farming is the biggest source of pollution associated with ethanol production. Corn requires vastly more fertilizer and pesticides than soybeans or other potential biofuel feedstocks, such as perennial grasses, according to a 2007 report from the National Academy of Sciences. 'Per unit of energy gained, biodiesel from soy requires just 2 percent of the nitrogen and 8 percent of the phosphorous needed for corn ethanol,' and the differentials in pesticide use are similar, the report said."

Closing credits: Wonkbook compiled with the help of Dylan Matthews and Mike Shepard.

By Ezra Klein  |  June 25, 2010; 1:07 AM ET
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Comments

Andrew Sullivan had a question about whether intelligent debate matters anymore.

I don't think it does.

Corporate and cultural interests dominate and dictate policy.

The Republicans will pursue their nihilistic drive when in power and lockdown the Senate when they are not. Through chaos, deceit, deliberate sabotage and conservative judicial activism, they are slowly transforming the nation into a third-world libertarian paradise.

What should Dems do?

Well, when you are on the battlements and your enemy is in full charge and you have one last round in your chamber, you either use it or surrender. I say use it, because after November I predict the Dems will be out of "effective dominant power" for the rest of our lives.

The Dems should immediately impeach Ben Nelson or otherwise remove him from office or from the caucus. Play dirty Dems. The ConservaDems and GOP are repeatedly kicking you all in your shriveled balls and all you are doing is whimpering and yelling "stop it".

....

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 25, 2010 6:30 AM | Report abuse

Fight back you filthy cowards. IMPEACH BEN NELSON and every ConservaDem who filibusters with the GOP. Same goes for Liebermann, kick his ruddy arse out of the caucus and his committeships. CLEAN HOUSE you useless dogs. Get rid of every traitor. They are taking you for a ride and pretending to negotiate in good faith but leave you at the alter every time a meaningful vote is taken.

And stop forwarding complex, watered down legislation for consideration. IT AINT GONNA PASS. Get a clue. How stupid are you?

Instead, frequently offer up small, easily read, incremental laws designed to put your enemies on the spot. For example, propose a law limiting credit card rates. That simple. Make a big noise out of it. Do it for the people. Every American wants rates limited. Walk en masse to the White House with hammers in your hand and bang on the fence and scream at Obama that he either joins you or resigns.

Pass a law banning earmarks? YES DO IT. Cause if you don't, the GOP will surely bankrupt us once they take office in November and Obama is too much a coward to stand up to them. BAN EARMARKS IMMEDIATELY AND THE AMERICAN PUBLIC WILL STAND AT YOUR SIDE IMMEDIATELY. You aren't getting anything else done anyway, SO DO IT you morons.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 25, 2010 6:32 AM | Report abuse

Lom, as much as I'd love to be rid of Ben Nelson, replacing him with a Republican won't get anything better done in the Senate. The Nelsons and the Leibermans are annoying, sure, and they don't do much credit to their office, but getting a more pure party doesn't necessarily make things better. Better to have a Senate composed of liberals moderates, and conservatives and rules allowing for legislation which has majority support to eventually be allowed to come to a vote absent extreme circumstances.

Posted by: MosBen | June 25, 2010 7:00 AM | Report abuse

No, we need to take the trash out. We are in a war. Because of these ConservaDems the media spins the failure of Dems to get anything done as Democratic incompetence rather than as a failure of the GOP to have moderates/centrists in its own party who work to make bills better. It is better to lose power and stay true to your self than to keep on generating useless, watered-down bills. If the GOP gains more power, so be it, and let them finally take full blame for their nihilistic tendencies, and then maybe, perhaps years from now, we will finally make genuine progress.

Neuter Ben Nelson and Liebermann and the other ConservaDems. They are imposters who collude with the GOP to maintain the status quo. Ezra can perhaps speak to the little known fact that in the halls of Congress, ConservaDems have GREAT disdain for anything even smelling "progressive" and only submit to it when there is absolutely no choice (basically when their seat is on the line, as is the case of Blanche Lincoln and her sudden derivative proposal after she was primaried).

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 25, 2010 7:35 AM | Report abuse

Ezra

Yesterday I levied a serious allegation about the WP and other media outlets being complicit and corrupt as regards to the BP oil spill.

I suggested that perhaps the media was not using its power to demand why the media was not fully covering the nature and extent of the spill.

I suggested that perhaps for-profit media centers have conflict of interests and that ad revenue from big oil and defense industries means the people cant get a full and accurate story about the BP oil spill and other related stories.

I accused journalists of serious ethical lapses for attending high profile parties offered by the gvmt and industry. I believe you once bragged about attending such a party?

I even think that acceptance of any offer to be a part of the prestigious White House press pool is a kind of corruption. No one dares ask tough questions in fear of being pushed out. Two people in the pool are known to have asked tough questions: one was recently forced to retire and one was given a plum job on MSNBC and suddenly stopped being so tough.

I take your silence on this as proof of your admission of guilt.

I think journalists today are after money and lifestyle rather than the truth or the story. The Watergate story would not be possible today IMO.

Don't get me wrong, I think your blog is valuable, and I appreciate what you do. But if can't answer serious charges like this, and maybe provide the financial statistics I asked for, then I take that as a sign you may be assimilating well into your lifestyle.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 25, 2010 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Without HR4213 -- the tax-and-spend extension bill which failed yesterday -- what's going to happen to satellite television? When will the goodly portion of the bill that related to satellite television come up for another vote?? Why isn't everyone up in arms over the loss of this critical element of "emergency" television regulation? Ridiculing an "emergency" tax-and-spend bill such as HR4213 is too easy: the real benefits to those actually suffering are dwarfed by Social-Democratic Party graft and bilge.


Unrelated -- The great phrase in Kate Pickert's Time piece cited above is "and are not dropped by employers."

Posted by: rmgregory | June 25, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

I don't agree with John Kerry much but he's right on this one. Denying hundreds of thousands of people extended unemployment benefit is mean, hurtful and bad for the recovery. What will people do now? Well, more will lose their homes. And that $309 a week they would spend at the grocery store or mall won't circulate and small businesses will be hurt.
btw, I've been hearing great job search advice on an internet radio show at www.jobtalkamerica.com. Looks like we're all going to need it.

Posted by: kcsam215 | June 25, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

There is no point in trying to pass anything if you don't get rid of the filibuster. I know that the Democrats are afraid that they won't be able to use the filibuster when they are in the minority, but THEY WON'T USE IT ANYWAY. The Dems rarely use the Filibuster. If they lose the majority they still won't ever use it because then they will be seen as partisan and obstructionists.

No one blames the Repubs for being obstructionists because the media won't report it. It should be discussed on all the news programs and mentioned every day. But it won't be. The Democrats I hear seem outraged by the Republican obstructionism, but what these people don't realize is that Main Street doesn't even know this is going on. Even liberals say the Democrats aren't doing anything about jobs. 80% of these people I talk to don't even know the Dems are trying to pass a jobs bill. There isn't a word about it on tv or the radio. CNN and FOX play in ALL public places including the doctors waiting rooms and the grocery store, and these outlets report simply that the Democrats aren't doing anything about jobs.

I thought getting Democrats elected whould help this country. I didn't realize the depth and incidiousness of the corruption and greed of the Republicans and their corporate sponsors. In 10 years this country will look like Brazil without the morality.

Posted by: rlritt | June 25, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

The Dem's will definitely be powerless after November and it's gonna happen 2 yrs too late but better late then never as they say !!! If Reid thinks that Climate regulation is going to pass and if he really thinks it's good for the American People I got a Bag of BS to sell him to, the problem with the Dem's is they feel there Crap don't stink and there above everyone else who isn't apart of the Beltway, meaning you & me & everyone who's no one and that will be there biggest failure of the last 4 yrs in power Pelosi included cause she to failed to drain the swamp of the trash she promised or did the Media and the rest of the Dem party forget about that Campaign promise ??

UE benefits should have been cut off a year ago already, as there is plenty of work to be had just that if your getting nearly as much sitting on your ass doing nothing, what incentive is there to get a job ? Sure the EU numbers will go down once the Benefits stop but it's not going to make the Dem party look good because of the number sliding downward, were not that stupid nor it the Conservative Party there's a thing called Video cameras and voting records they can not hide from !!

If the Dems really wanted to save there Asses before november they would start the impeachment process of the Bozo & Chief which would attract the entire GOP/Conservative party and that alone would provide a huge upward shift for our Economy, Job's and allow for this Country to be what it once was prior to BO taking office !! But the conservative party once in power will drain the swamp for Pelosi, and repeal Obama Care for Harry Reid and will also put F&F out of business for Frank, and Dodd to save this Country Billions of Dollars that will suffocate all Americans if allowed to continue on with Business as usual !!

The American People are pissed more so than you may realize and your reporting on the non issues of today are proof of the Media gone wild for WH Hooplas on Friday Nights, or the lack of media coverage on People and other Countries who offered up there help to stop the well in the Gulf and to fight a War like it's suppose to be fought, and not by picking and choosing who the enemy is or may thin they are. And we also need to get on BO and force him to close the Border this alone is enough to impeach BO and if you think it's not that cause you haven't been reporting the news we can use like the rest of the MSM, Lame Stream Media !!!

Posted by: dwenzel2 | June 25, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

UE benefits should have been cut off a year ago already, as there is plenty of work to be had just that if your getting nearly as much sitting on your ass doing nothing, what incentive is there to get a job ?
===========================================
Thank you for proving my point. You are obviously out of touch with the situation in America. But I think we both know you understand perfectly well, you just don't care about people.

There are good people in my community who have been laid off after working 20 and 30 years in their professions. Unempoloyment compensation is a fraction of what they make.(and they paid into it) They want to work, but most of them know they will never get jobs in their fields again--these are business people, psychologists, police and fire fighters, and teachers.

Thank you for demonstrating the complete lack of understanding the Republicans have of the crise in the American middle class.

Posted by: rlritt | June 25, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

The first jobs bill (i.e. $787 billion, aka "stimulus pkg.") didn't work, and now we're all stuck with the bill. It was then said, by Obama, that because of the passing of that "jobs bill", that unemployment would not go over 8%, but it went to 10.5%. So, what in the wide world of liberal numbskulls would any red, white, and blue blooded American believe another sham by imposter Obama and Co., that this one will create jobs. Not me, but I'm not a liberal. definition of "insanity": doing the same things expecting different results.

Posted by: WarriorProtectingTheConstitution | June 25, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

The first time home buyers credit is incredibly important for our economy. Its really about allowing employment mobility. Its NOT about house prices. We are facing not a recession but a change in our economy. A huge employment dislocation. All those construction workers in boom areas building houses that will never have owners need to move away from those areas and find new employment. Employment in industrial production, if we are likely. Maybe employment in new energy system construction.

To do this people have to have mobility. The first-time home buyers credit loosened the market. I wouldn't be able to move to my new job (and my wife's new job), if it weren't for the first time home buyer who is buying my house. He was motivated by the tax credit (but didn't find our house in time to take advantage of the credit).

I have many colleagues (5 off the top of my head) who have been moving to new jobs (in the biotech/academic sector) who can't sell their old homes and now live with the incredible stress of two mortgages on top of moving and new job stress. Some have broken homelives (can't give up the second income in the old town, so spouses live in separate cities).

I know others who would like to move, but can't move because there are no buyers of their homes. This kind of friction in the employment system will slow recovery. Often if sellers find buyers, their buyers can't sell their homes. Our realtors deal with chains of closing where any failure to find a buyer in the chain collapses all the sales. In one story 5 sales failed because the first buyer in the chain couldn't find a buyer for their house. All the sales were dependent on that first sale and fell through. Very very tough.

The only way to break these chains is to bring in buyers who don't need to sell a house first: first time home buyers. And getting first time home buyers interested in a market that is falling off a cliff is hard. Hence the tax credit.

Looking at this program as a home sales program is, frankly, short sighted.

Posted by: pagemp | June 25, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

"The only way to break these chains is to bring in buyers who don't need to sell a house first: first time home buyers. And getting first time home buyers interested in a market that is falling off a cliff is hard. Hence the tax credit."

I've got bad news for you. The first time homebuyers are gone. Pretty much any renter who wanted to buy a house - and could afford to do so - in the 2009-2013 time span has done so. Don't count on the new college graduates to fill in the cracks here either, because they're having an enormously tough time finding jobs and are burdened with tens of thousands of debt, and delaying household formation. The credit does very little to magically create new first time homebuyers - it just brings future first time homebuyers into the present.

And yes, there is some difficulty getting buyers excited about a fallING market. Buyers are very excited about investing in a market that has fallEN once the bleeding stops. Is it smarter to bring future demand into the present, letting house prices begin to fall once again once the support programs end, or to stop trying to prop up the market and let home prices bottom?

Artificial supports like the tax credit moved future demand to the present, and made 2009-2010Q1 look better at the expense of 2010Q2-?. It also probably encouraged some of these homebuilders to ramp up production recently, and look months supply of inventory is back to an 11 month high of 8.5 (average of 4 from 1997-2005) and the months for sale since completion is now up to a staggering 14 months (typically 4-5).

"I have many colleagues (5 off the top of my head) who have been moving to new jobs (in the biotech/academic sector) who can't sell their old homes and now live with the incredible stress of two mortgages on top of moving and new job stress."

Wow. People are stuck and miserable with homes they cannot sell, and then they go buy another home. My last Pinto just exploded, let's go back to the Ford dealer to get another.

Why should I subsidize these people? No one can predict the future but in all likelihood the market is not coming back anytime soon. Inventories - including new foreclosures in the pipeline and shadow inventory - remain very high. Bank balance sheets are weak and credit will remain tight. Prices could well start falling again. I hope they don't have to move again in a year or two or else I'm afraid they might try a go at owning a third house. Maybe if we had just stopped supporting the market a long time ago, prices would have already found a bottom and people would have decided to rent rather than buying a second home when the first doesn't sell.

Posted by: justin84 | June 25, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Man that Brown quote is one of the dumbest things I've ever read. It's not that he opposes aid to the unemployed -- it's just that he doesn't want to borrow or raise money to pay for them! Presumably he'd be totally down if there were magic unemployment-fixing fairies willing to fund an extension.

Posted by: NS12345 | June 25, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

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