Saturday, June 4, 2011

Where Are the Jobs?

The 112th Congress has passed 25 roll call votes. This is the result of its taking care of the people’s business: 7 bills have become public law, 9 bills are destined for veto and the balance faces Senate opposition. Speaking of the Democratic controlled Senate, 4 of those veto destined bills have been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and the balance are probably destined to failure. So, where are the jobs?

Let’s start with the legislation that has become public law. Bills on defense, Republicans never say “No” to the Department of Defense. There are lots of jobs in the armed services, but that’s not new. Roads will continue to be built and small business gets to save a lot of paper. There are continuing appropriations because bills must still be paid until a some kind of budget is enacted. But there are no new jobs in any of that.

The extension of the Patriot Act is contentious because it comes up for vote again. Key parts of the Patriot Act are set to expire on May 27th. The Senate promised a real debate on this Bush Administration brain-child, but clearly that isn’t going to happen. The ACLU opposes its abridgement of the 4th Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. But they guy listening to your phone calls could have told you that.

The Banking Committee is looking at bills aimed at existing legislation and none is likely to pass. There is a Refinance bill to eliminate the Federal Housing Administration’s recently implemented short refinancing program. The White House has threatened to veto the measure should it pass the Senate. The Treasury’s Emergency Mortgage Relief Program, aimed at helping 3 to 4 million people by modifying at-risk mortgage loans, is a target. The HAMP Act [Home Affordable Modification Program], part of the TARP [Troubled Asset Relief Program] created by the Bush administration is a target and the administration has already said it will veto that bill. So far, however, there are no jobs offered in any of that business.

The new Republican House got lots of TV camera time by doing what it said it was going to do -- to attack and repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, which they call by the epithet “ObamaCare”. They passed the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act and Repealing the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the latter which seeks to defund the new Health Care law. Both of those were campaign promises to people who don’t like Obama by people whose platform is not to like Obama. They promised jobs to everyone, just not in these bills.

Remember the BP oil disaster in the Gulf last year? The new Republican House hopes you don’t. Their Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act would require the administration to move forward with lease sales along the Atlantic Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico that it has delayed or canceled. Coincidentally, the Atlantic drilling is off the coast of Virginia, of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s home. The administration has said it will veto the bill.

And speaking about the environment, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases for the purpose of combating climate change. How that saves taxpayers money while it chokes them must be a gift to somebody. If you guessed an Obama veto is likely, you guessed right. As for the defunding of National Public Radio, when Rush Limbaugh is free, Who Needs NPR?

What else has the House done for us, the people, so far? It passed some more “Repeal Funding” bills, aimed at defunding provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act that probably will not make it through the Senate. I have previously written about H.R.3 [No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act] and Net Neutrality [Disapproving the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission with respect to regulating the Internet and broadband industry practices]. Both of those face major Senate opposition.

They passed a Scholarship bill that has to do with Washington, D.C. schools. Congress is responsible for the district. There is an FAA bill “to streamline programs, create efficiencies, reduce waste, and improve aviation safety and capacity,” and we all need safer skies. There is the Government Shutdown Prevention Act, but that is probably unconstitutional. The budget bill that passed the House last month is in the Senate Budget Committee. It is all about cuts that will put more people out of work.

The one thing that the Republican House has done that gets plenty of attention is to create controversy on the deficit and debt ceiling debates. Both are exceptional exercises in brinksmanship, not effective fiscal policy, and confirmed to investors that congress is clueless about financial markets. The financial crisis itself is a product of the Republican administration that started two wars and decided to finance them with deficits instead of taxes. Republicans are responsible for a problem that cuts cannot cure. Creating jobs would at least increase federal revenue though withholding taxes, but that is a promise they have not kept. They also expect to be reelected.

Article first published as Where Are the Jobs? on Technorati.

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