News / USA

Obama's Jobs Plan Fails First Legislative Test

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell talks about President Obama's job bill,  Oct. 4, 2011
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell talks about President Obama's job bill, Oct. 4, 2011
Michael Bowman

The U.S. Senate has rejected President Barack Obama's plan to jump-start U.S. job creation through a combination of tax incentives and public works programs. In a procedural vote, the plan got no Republican backing and was opposed by three senators of the president's own Democratic Party.

For weeks, President Obama has traveled the country, demanding that Congress act on his jobs bill, designed to combat an unemployment rate stuck above nine percent.  On Tuesday, he got his wish, but not the result he hoped for.  The Senate voted 50 to 49 to begin debate on the $447 billion American Jobs Act. Although a majority, it was short of the 60 votes required under Senate rules.

The chamber’s top Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, portrayed the bill as an extension of what he sees as President Obama’s failed economic leadership.

“Today’s vote is conclusive proof that Democrats’ sole proposal is to keep doing what has not worked," said McConnell. "The president’s first stimulus was a legislative and economic catastrophe.  Eight-hundred-twenty-five billion dollars later, there are 1.7 million fewer jobs in this country than there were when the first stimulus was signed.”

The American Jobs Act contains tax breaks for businesses that hire new workers, an extension of temporary cuts in Social Security contributions made by wage and salary earners, an extension of federal jobless benefits, and federal funding for road construction, school renovation and other public works projects.  Although specific provisions differ from President Obama’s original economic stimulus package of 2009, its overall goal - using the federal government to jump-start economic activity and stimulate job creation -- is much the same.

Senate Majority Leader, Democrat Harry Reid argued in favor of the plan, noting that the Senate version called for raising federal taxes on people earning more than $1 million a year to offset expenditures.

“This legislation will ask the richest Americans to give their fair share to get our economy back on track," said Reid. "The president’s plan will put construction crews back to work, building the things that make our country stronger - roads, bridges, dams, sewers, water systems, and up-to-date schools where our children get the best education possible.”

Reid accused Republicans of blocking economic progress to weaken President Obama before next year’s general elections.

“The president’s plan contains many ideas that Republicans have supported consistently over the years," he said. "Republicans oppose those ideas now.  I guess Republicans think if the economy improves, it might help President Obama.  So they root for the economy to fail and oppose every effort to improve it.”

Minority Leader McConnell countered that it is Democrats who are playing politics with the U.S. economy, pressing forward with a bill that stood little chance of passage in a politically-divided legislature.

“Democrats have designed this bill to fail in the hopes that anyone who votes against it will look bad for opposing a bill they have mistakenly referred to as a jobs bill," he said. "This whole exercise is a charade that is meant to give Democrats a political edge.”

Among the Democrats opposing the bill was Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who voiced opposition to raising taxes on the wealthy and expanded government spending.  Republicans criticized the plan as wasteful government spending at a time when the national debt is already exploding.

Despite the defeat of the president’s bill, some individual provisions such as tax deductions do enjoy bipartisan support and might be approved by Congress.  In the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Majority Leader Eric Cantor says he hopes to work with Democrats on those areas of agreement.  Hours before the Senate vote, President Obama voiced support for a piecemeal approach, if that is what it takes to secure congressional approval.  

In a statement after the vote, President Obama said the American people will not take "no" for an answer when it comes to job creation.  

You May Like

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

Survivor: Gunman Spared 'Lucky One' to Give Police Message

Law enforcement official says a manifesto of several pages was recovered; contents not revealed More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs