Democrats vs. Democrats
Forget partisanship, filibusters and Jim Bunning for a second. The other leading reason the Democrats are having so much trouble passing bills is that House and Senate Democrats can’t stand each other.
From a reporter’s standpoint, the evidence of this is largely anecdotal. (You wouldn’t believe the number of times that Democratic aides — when asked if they’ve spoken with aides in the other chamber about this issue or that bill — have responded with some variation of, “We never talk to them.”)
Latest evidence of the in-fighting: That $15 billion jobs bill — the one that passed the Senate this week with a boost from the upper-chamber’s newest liberal, Scott Brown (R-Mass.) — is going nowhere fast in the House, despite the 76-seat advantage the Democrats have there. Yesterday, the Congressional Black Caucus rejected the proposal for being too small, forcing House leaders to scrap their plans to vote on that bill today.
In part, this is understandable. Economists agree that the $15 billion package — focused largely on business tax cuts – isn’t nearly large enough to put much of a dent in the nation’s unemployment rate, and blacks have suffered disproportionately through the jobs crisis. (While the national jobless rate was 9.7 percent in January, that for blacks was 16.5 percent, according to the Labor Department.)
Still, Senate leaders have been clear that the recent proposal is just the first in a series of bills designed to create jobs. So while the House passed its jobs bill as a $154 billion package in December, the Senate has decided to approach the issue incrementally. Indeed, the $15 billion Senate proposal didn’t include an extension of unemployment insurance, COBRA benefits or the billions of dollars in state help that upper chamber leaders are expected to take up next week.
First, of course, they’ll have to maneuver around partisanship, filibusters and Jim Bunning.