by Daniel T. Zanoza, Executive Director
I am not an economist and I don't play one on TV, but something strange went on in the U.S. Senate yesterday. The legislative body passed a $15 billion "jobs bill" by a vote of 62 to 30. Eight Senators did not vote. [See: http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=111&session=2&vote=00023] Lawmakers included provisions within the legislation, supposedly designed to encourage small business owners to increase hiring. Of course, the bill might help small business owners--until Congress rams through Mr. Barack Obama's massive health care reform plan that will penalize small business entrepreneurs and help lead to more unemployment across America. By the way, one of the provisions in the "jobs bill" put another hit on Social Security, but who's counting?
Scott Brown of Massachusetts was one of five who broke ranks with Republicans. It didn't take long for the newly elected Senator to fall off the wagon of fiscal responsibility. Brown was joined by GOP comrades in arms retiring Senators George Voinovich of Ohio and Kit Bond of Missouri and the liberal Bobbsey Twins from Maine, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.
Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who voted no, obviously has seen the light since his now infamous Nebraska cornhusker kickback vote on health care reform. Nelson has been under withering fire in his home state. Therefore, knowing the U.S. Senate, a deal must have been cut to exclude him from voting yes on a bill that would put America in greater debt.
The original "jobs bill" totaled $85 billion before Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid trimmed the bill down to a mere $15 billion. But hey, what's $15 billion when the U.S. deficit is running in the trillions?
Now here's a question I have. Under the George Bush administration, nearly $1 trillion was given to Wall Street banking and insurance firms to bail them out because they were "too big to fail." TARP, in reality, provided a financial windfall for Wall Street types who could then send lobbyists back to Washington, D.C. to help fill the wallets and pocketbooks of Congress.
But here's the part I don't understand. The banks have paid back the U.S. government over $500 billion of the original TARP bail out money. Some say Obama is planning to use some of this cash in a slush fund to help elect Democrats in November. However, I won't be that cynical.
Also, there is roughly $500 billion which has not been spent from Obama's first stimulus package. Even though only 6% of Americans believe the stimulus package really created permanent jobs, the fact remains if you combine the money paid back to the U.S. government from the TARP bail out with the $500 billion remaining in unspent stimulus money, that adds up to $1 trillion, doesn't it?
Here's another foolish question: Couldn't that trillion bucks be used to pay down the debt that is strangling America and we could have peeled $15 billion out of it to apply towards the so-called "jobs bill" which passed in a parliamentary vote in the U.S. Senate on Monday, Feb. 22nd.
I guess I just don't get it. And I don't understand how Scott Brown, you remember him, the 41st vote to stop health care, has lost his way so quickly. But he did say he wasn't the 41st vote, after the election was over...every Republican Senator represented the 41st vote. So I guess we can now call Brown the 62nd vote which helped put America more in debt.
So hold your applause, sports fans. Scott Brown just might not be what we thought he was. But, heck, he's a member of Congress, so what's new?
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