The election-year jobs agenda promised by President Barack Obama and Democrats has stalled seven months before voters determine control of Congress.
Democrats have no money to pay for the program. That’s because both Republicans and the Democratic chairman of the Senate Budget Committee objected to taking money left over from the fund that bailed out banks, automakers and insurers and using it for the jobs bill.
Such a move, they insisted, would add tens of billions of dollars to the $12.8 trillion national debt.
An $80 billion-plus Senate plan promised an infusion of cash to build roads and schools, help local governments keep teachers on the payroll, and provide rebates for homeowners who make energy-saving investments. Two months after the plan was introduced, most of those main elements remain on the Senate’s shelf.
Obama’s proposed $250 bonus payment to Social Security recipients is dead for the year, having lost a Senate vote last month.
What’s going ahead instead are more modest initiatives. That includes some help for small business or simple extensions of parts from last year’s economic stimulus measure. None is expected to make an appreciable dent in an unemployment rate, stuck at 9.7 percent.
Even legislation to help the jobless has run into trouble.
The idea of a jobs agenda arose late last year when the unemployment rate hit 10 percent and Democrats voiced concern that the majority party wasn’t doing enough to spur job creation.