Will Congress Pass the Jobs Bill?

Posted in: Iowa City Owl Political News and Opinion
With 2012 elections looming just around the corner, tensions couldn’t be higher in Washington. Americans are showing more and more frustration, with a recent poll putting the number of people who approve of how Congress is doing its job at a mere 12%. A low like this hasn’t been seen since October of 2008, at the height of the economic crisis. The US seems unable to come together on any issue or topic, with the exception of a blatant dislike for politicians’ plans.

In an environment like this, it will be hard to get any legislation passed, much less a controversial jobs bill. While Democrats seem to be consistently urging the President to try something even larger and more daring than the last stimulus, fiscal conservatives are nothing short of horrified at the prospect of spending more money and sending the country into further debt. The President has sought to fight these objections, promising to reduce the deficit by “[offering] specific proposals that can achieve savings ‘more ambitious’ than the committee's $1.5 trillion target.” He also said that [the plan] would be "balanced," involving both spending cuts and tax increases. He affirmed that it would "stabilize debt in the long run."

Whether or not these claims are true remains to be seen as the National Debt Panel and Congress work with President Obama to reach these goals before the American Jobs Act of 2011 is denied approval. The media has offered various descriptions of the bill, attempting to condense this 155 page document down to a few bullet points.

The website opencongress.org does an effective job of explaining what this bill would do:

“[The bill] would extend several stimulus measures that are scheduled to expire at the end of 2011, including the employee payroll tax holiday, extended unemployment insurance, and accelerated expensing for businesses. It also includes several new measures designed to prevent layoffs and encourage businesses to hire new workers. These include $35 billion in aid to local governments to help slow job losses in the public sector, about $100 billion in various infrastructure improvement programs, tax credits for businesses that hire long-term unemployed workers, and reductions in the level of payroll taxes that businesses have to pay. The stimulus provisions would add $447 billion to the deficit over the next ten years, although it suggests offsetting the costs by raising taxes on wealthy Americans and by closing corporate tax loopholes.”

Many believe that this stimulus will not work because it has not been heavily supported by employers, who say that the sorts of initiatives found in the bill are not what they need. Instead, they describe a need for more consumer demand which will lead to more profits and therefore allow them to hire for the long-term and full-time positions which are so lacking.

Even Democrats who would typically show strong support for this type of legislation are not optimistic. They seem to either think this will not be a strong enough push, or that it will not get passed because there are certain portions which will be vehemently opposed. Some are saying there is a need to split up the bill into parts which can be more easily passed. On the other side of the aisle, Republicans seem eager to show their absolute refusal to side with Obama on any issue, most likely in anticipation of the upcoming election. Those Republicans who demonstrate a clear opposition to the President’s agenda now will likely be favored should a GOP member win in 2012.

With dire unemployment and underemployment numbers, rising poverty, and threats of economic crises or collapse world-wide, it will certainly be difficult for Congress to pass anything not guaranteed to solve the problems. Since the last stimulus has been essentially judged by the American public as completely ineffective, it is doubtful this sibling bill will pass in its current state.
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