Since his high profile September 8th address to Congress, President Obama has taken every available opportunity to implore legislators to pass the American Jobs Act. Economists from both sides of the aisle have argued that the bill would stave off a dreaded double-dip recession. The Congressional Budget Office gave a the bill a de facto endorsement. But despite all of this positive press, the bill appears to be far away from actually becoming law.
In an interview with Chicago radio station WLS-AM on Thursday, Illionis Senator Dick Durbin claimed that the Senate does not have the votes to pass the bill.
“The oil-producing state senators don’t like eliminating or reducing the subsidy for oil companies,” Durbin tells WLS Radio, “There are some senators who are up for election who say I’m never gonna vote for a tax increase while I’m up for election, even on the wealthiest people. So, we’re not gonna have 100% Democratic senators. That’s why it needs to be bi-partisan and I hope we can find some Republicans who will join us to make it happen.”
But so far, Durbin concedes Democrats don’t have the votes in the senate to pass it, “Not at the moment, I don’t think we do but, uh, we can work on it.”
If the American Jobs Act needs significant Republican support to pass, then it is in serious trouble. Congressional Republicans have spent the past three years doing everything possible to impede President Obama’s legislative agenda, and it’s hard to imagine the politically contentious American Jobs Act stopping that trend.
Ironically, failing to pass the American Jobs Act may actually benefit President Obama politically. It would give him the clearest example yet that Republicans are more interested in partisan squabbling than they are in economic recovery, which is sure to be a recurring theme of his re-election campaign. But it would be disastrous economically. If Congress once again fails to do anything to stimulate the economy, then it seems certain that unemployment will continue to rise; if they’re not careful, many Congressmen might soon join those looking for jobs.