Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, Republicans could be counted on to vote for a bill that would give tax breaks to businesses. Not anymore. Not this Republican Party. Not the party-of-no, we-want-Obama-to-fail GOP.
Yesterday, the Senate broke a filibuster against a proposed jobs bill that would provide tax breaks to businesses that add workers to the payrolls. Only five Republicans voted to end the filibuster. (Georgia’s leading lights, Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, were not among them.) That’s what counts as bi-partisanship in Washington these days. From the WaPo:
Aided by a handful of Republicans, Senate Democratic leaders on Monday kept alive a $15 billion job-creation measure and are poised to pass the measure later this week.
Five Republicans, including new Sen. Scott P. Brown (Mass.), joined 57 Democrats in voting to break a filibuster of the jobs bill, after a suspenseful buildup in which members of both parties wondered whether Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) could cobble together enough support to clear the legislative hurdle.
The bipartisan result marked a breakthrough for Democrats, who have been frustrated since President Obama came to office by their inability to attract much Republican support for their agenda. The vote was also a vindication for Reid, who is grappling with a tough reelection race in Nevada and faced questions in Washington over whether he mishandled the jobs issue.
“I hope this is the beginning of a new day in the Senate,” Reid said after the vote.
Reid lost the public support of several Republicans after discarding an $85 billion jobs package negotiated by Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) in favor of a narrower bill favored by liberals. GOP leaders complained that Reid had spurned a bipartisan deal that had been negotiated in good faith.
Republicans Christopher Bond (Mo.), Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia J. Snowe (Maine) and George V. Voinovich (Ohio) joined Brown in breaking ranks to back the bill. Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.) was the only Democrat to vote against the measure, which advanced, 62 to 30.
The bill’s centerpiece is a $13 billion program allowing companies to avoid paying Social Security taxes for the remainder of 2010 on new hires who have been unemployed for at least 60 days. Employers would also receive a $1,000 tax credit for each new worker who stays on the job for at least a year. Democrats tout the plan as a simple way to create tens of thousands of new jobs, though some experts dismiss it as too narrow to make a significant dent in the nation’s unemployment rate.
The jobs bill also includes a one-year reauthorization of the Highway Trust Fund, a provision allowing companies to write off equipment purchases as business expenses, and an expansion of the Build America Bonds program, which helps state and local governments finance infrastructure projects.
Scott Brown, who promised bi-partisanship in his Massachusetts Senate campaign, had the gumption to vote to end the filibuster. If he had not, the bill might have died.