Job Creationism: Legislation Lockdown

Jobs.  Jobs.  Jobs.  There is no doubt that the 2012 elections will be about the economy and jobs… from the Presidential election to the elections of Congress and various state elections.  And the heated debate of creating jobs is ratcheting up even more… a sign that this particular issue (this one issue) will be the focus of the attention this time around.  As President Obama insists that Congress begin passing his recommendations for creating jobs, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) insists that Republicans in the House have already passed 30-such jobs bills that are now stalled in the Democratic Senate in which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) refuses to bring any of them to a vote.

It’s a tit-for-tat in the end.  The President wants Congress to pass his agenda which he knows Republicans won’t vote for.  So he puffs out his chest and tells them that Congress won’t act to help create jobs and improve the economy.  The Republicans in the House start passing bills that they know won’t get passed by the Senate or receive the President’s signature.  So they puff out their chests and claim its the Democrats that are refusing to create jobs and improve the economy.  Are you seeing the commonality of this?  Basically, it’s both sides doing things that the other side won’t agree with it, and trying to act like the “good guy” in the debate since it is an election year.  As hard as it has been to get Congress to do anything major in a bipartisan way in the last two years (probably even the past 4), it will be even moreso this year as each side wants to prop up their candidates.

So as President Obama sends his post-it note to Congress with the legislation he wants it to pass, Speaker Boehner is right and wrong about the stalled legislation in the Senate.  He’s right that the House did pass jobs bills that are stuck in the other chamber, but he’s wrong about the number of them.  He has repeatedly said there are 30 of them, but there are only 27.  He probably just rounded the number up since 30 is a simpler number to work with than 27.  Each of these bills is outlined on the GOP website.  So without going into finite detail about each of them, what exactly are these bills that the GOP is trumpeting?

  • H.R. 3606 – Jumpstart our Business Startups (JOBS) Act
  • H.R. 1633 – Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011
  • H.R. 10 – Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2011
  • H.R. 3010 – Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011
  • H.R. 527 – Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2011
  • H.R. 3012 – Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act 2011
  • H.R. 3094 – Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act
  • H.R. 2930 – Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act
  • H.R. 2940 – Access to Capital for Job Creators Act
  • H.R. 1965 – To Amend the Securities Laws
  • H.R. 1070 – Small Company Capital Formation Act of 2011
  • H.R. 1904 – Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2011
  • H.R. 2273 – Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act
  • H.R. 2681 – Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011
  • H.R. 2250 – EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011
  • H.R. 2401 – Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011 (TRAIN)
  • H.R. 2587 – Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act
  • H.R. 1938 – North American-Made Energy Security Act
  • H.R. 1315 – Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act of 2011
  • H.R. 2018 – Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011
  • H.R. 2021 – Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011
  • H.R. 1231 – Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act
  • H.R. 1229 – Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act
  • H.R. 1230 – Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act
  • H.R. 910 – Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011
  • H.J. Res. 37 – Disapproval of FCC’s Net Neutrality Regulations
  • H.R. 872 – Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011

I am going to focus on H.R. 3606 (JOBS Act) for just a moment.  There is a reason why I want to bring this particular piece of legislation to attention.  It passed the House in March by a huge bipartisan vote… 390-23.  Yes, a major bipartisan vote.  The legislation went to the Senate, which according to the GOP website linked to earlier in this article, it still sits.  Wrong.  At the end of March, the Senate passed the JOBS Act with a few minor tweaks in it… 73-26.  The main part of the tweak was stringent safeguards to protect investors.  The tweaked bill went back to the House where it passed 380-41.  All of these votes were bipartisan and the legislation was signed by President Obama.

Other than the JOBS Act, the GOP website (linked above) only focuses on the bills that are stuck in the Senate.  But, if one were to look at House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) website, then a different outlook comes to play. It does have the JOBS Act listed correctly as being passed by both chambers and signed by the President.  All of the other bills on the list are stalled in the Senate; however, there are numerous other bills that have been passed by both chambers and signed by President Obama.  But that little fact doesn’t get discussed by the politicians who are jockeying for position or the media.  One must look at both lists to actually get a broader scope of the issue as a whole.

So, I’ve discussed the GOP rhetoric, but what about President Obama?  He sent his post-it note to the members of Congress on the bills he would like to see passed.  Unlike my earlier list of individual bills the GOP House has passed, the President cannot write such bills.  That falls to Congress alone.  He can make recommendations, though, on what he would like to see in those bills.  He calls it The American Jobs Act (AJA).  It has five distinct parts to it.

  1. Tax cuts to help America’s small businesses hire and grow
  2. Putting workers back on the job while rebuilding and modernizing America
  3. Pathways back to work for Americans looking for jobs
  4. More money in the pockets of every American worker and family
  5. Fully Paid For

This was the exact legislation that President Obama called upon before a joint-session of Congress in September 2011.  According to an AP report, independent analysis concluded that the plan would have a positive impact.

“A tentative thumbs-up. That was the assessment Thursday night from economists who offered mainly positive reviews of President Barack Obama’s $450 billion plan to stimulate job creation.” […]

“Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, estimated that the president’s plan would boost economic growth by 2 percentage points, add 2 million jobs and reduce unemployment by a full percentage point next year compared with existing law.”

Macroeconomic Advisers weren’t as optimistic, but did say that they “estimate that the American Jobs Act (AJA), if enacted, would give a significant boost to GDP and employment over the near-term.”  So what happened to the legislation?  Republicans in the House refused to bring it up for a vote, and a Republican filibuster prevented it from being brought to the floor in the Senate.  Doesn’t this sound a little like what the House GOP is accusing the Senate Democrats of doing.  As earlier stated, it’s a tit-for-tat… neither side wanting to help the other on bills that would put Americans back to work.

As we head into the summer and the autumn, and the campaign rhetoric with creating jobs heats up even more than it already has, we must remember that both sides have been proposing jobs legislation only to have the other side block it in some form or fashion.  It’s at this point, one must ask where all the moderates have gone that would have come together and weaved through the various chambers and viewpoints and proposed a bill that was a sensible compromise that could have been passed.  In essence, we the voters have pretty much voted them out of office.  It is possible that the two sides can work together, as was listed earlier with the JOBS Act and several other bills that are listed on House Majority Leader Cantor’s website.  Though they might not agree on everything, it’s time for Congress to sit down with each other and do some serious discussions on proper legislation that will help our economy grow and put the people back to work.  Though, I do have to remind myself from time to time that it’s not the president or members of Congress that create jobs.  They create the scenario for the creation of jobs (or the decline of jobs).  Regardless, both sides have to do this together.  Passing legislation that you know won’t get passed the other side is a waste of time.  Instead, it’s time for both sides to continuously sit down with each other and bring about common sense (non-partisan) solutions.  We can see that it has been done.  So it is possible to continue with that momentum.  Both sides are in this together, and it’s both sides that should be held accountable.

LINKS:
WP – House passes JOBS bill
Politico – Senate passes JOBS Act with tweak
NYT – Final Approval by House
House GOP Plan for America’s Job Creators
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)
White House: The American Jobs Act 

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