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GOP Kills Infrastructure Jobs Bill

Monday, November 7, 2011

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Republicans nipped President Obama’s $60 billion construction jobs initiative in the bud last week, shooting down the road and infrastructure aid package scarcely before the ink dried.

The Rebuild America Jobs Act (S. 1769) was born Oct. 31 in the Senate and died in a near-party-line vote Nov. 3, despite a full-court press for the initiative by the president and leading Democrats.

‘Stalemated Congress’

Titled as “a bill to put workers back on the job while rebuilding and modernizing America,” the measure went down “as a stalemated Congress goes through the motions of attempting legislation to spur economic growth largely as a mechanism to allow each party to blame the other for the failure to act,” as the Washington Post described it later.

 Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Joe Manchin
Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), sponsors of the Rebuild America Jobs Act, joined Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in an appearance last week to push for the bill’s passage. The Senate rejected the bill Thursday.

Thursday’s vote was 51-49 in favor, but the bill needed 60 votes to advance. All 47 Republicans voted no, as did independent Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Ben Nelson (D-NE).

$60B Plan: ‘Fully Paid For’

Sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Joe Manchin III (D-WV), the Rebuild America bill included $50 billion in immediate investments for highway, transit, rail and aviation and $10 billion in seed money for an infrastructure bank designed to spark private investment in construction.

The program would have been funded with a 0.7 percent surtax on those making more than $1 million dollars a year.

Defeating the measure “makes no sense when you consider that this bill was made up of the same kinds of common-sense proposals that many of these Senators have fought for in the past,” Obama said in a statement after the vote. “It was fully paid for.”

Piece by Piece

The bill was just one piece of a $447 billion jobs proposal by Obama that the Senate had already rejected as a whole. Since then, Democrats have been trying to advance smaller pieces of the plan individually, to no avail.

Earlier, Senate Republicans blocked a $35 billion measure to hire teachers and first responders.

For their part, Senate Democrats voted Thursday to block a Republican proposal to extend the government’s highway spending authority for two years and roll back some environmental regulations. That measure went down, 53-47, three months before the current highway spending authority is scheduled to lapse.

‘So Dysfunctional’

Despite Congress’s deep split, the Rebuild America bill was thought to have had a fair chance there.

Polls show Americans largely supported various elements of Obama’s overall jobs plan, and the Rebuild America piece was among the more popular, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Meanwhile, a new poll shows voter approval of congressional Democrats edging ahead of Republicans for the first time in recent memory.

Manchin, for one, expressed frustration with the political gridlock. Earlier, the Democrat had supported a GOP alternative that also died along party lines.

“Washington,” he said, “has become so dysfunctional.”

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Construction; Economy; Government; Infrastructure; Roads/Highways

Comment from David Baker, (11/8/2011, 10:23 AM)

The GOP really doesn't get it. How many people have to die on bridges ready to fall down of 583,000 bridges in the US 15% are structurally deficent as pointed out in latest surveys, as long as the rich get richer I guess thats OK


Comment from Richard Pyles, (11/8/2011, 6:52 PM)

Its time for american voters to wake up and vote them out.We needed the jobs bill to put people back to work


Comment from Tom Teune, (11/8/2011, 7:54 PM)

The republicans just don't get it. Americans want the President to take initiative and they want Congress to pass into legislation, the president's proposals.


Comment from Daryle Anderson, (11/9/2011, 7:02 AM)

Obama could develop and present and absolutely full proof stimulus plan to get the economy but it would not get thru the process because he is perceived, rightfully so, as a "weak" president. It appears the only goal for the politicians of both parties is to undermine each other. They need to get their eye back on the ball and that is Making the USA strong and two of the key measurements of strength is Financial and Leadership. We are weak Financially and we have no Leadership at any level in Washington.


Comment from Richard McLaughlin, (11/9/2011, 9:12 AM)

I'm not even going to ask what the interest rate from China would be to finance this bill would be if it did get passed. I'm all for rebuilding our infrastructure, but let's make sure we have a way to pay for it first. BTW, the Republicans only have a majority in the House, not the Senate, so they only have 1/2 of Congress and do not have control of the White House, just a reminder. What I really wanted to point out is how often the term "structurally deficient" get used and misunderstood as meaning a structure is ready to fall down. In the case of bridges this is an engineering term that is based on several points of review to generate a score of 0 to 100. The formula places 55 percent value on the structural condition of the bridge, 30 percent on its serviceability and obsolescence, and 15 percent on its essentiality to public use. So, with this formula, a bridge might be in good physical condition but be significantly under sized due to a rapid population growth in the area and the loss of it could "cripple" the area, thereby it would receive a score making it "structurally deficient".


Comment from John Bennett, (11/10/2011, 8:14 AM)

Richard, You failed to read the article - we did have "a way to pay for it first" "Sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Joe Manchin III (D-WV), the Rebuild America bill included $50 billion in immediate investments for highway, transit, rail and aviation and $10 billion in seed money for an infrastructure bank designed to spark private investment in construction. The program would have been funded with a 0.7 percent surtax on those making more than $1 million dollars a year."


Comment from Richard McLaughlin, (11/10/2011, 9:33 AM)

Okay,John... ah...by the way, I have a nice bridge I'd like to sell, are ya interested? ;-)


Comment from Wes Carter, (11/10/2011, 10:05 AM)

"$10 billion in seed money for an infrastructure bank designed to spark private investment in construction."...Solyndra National??? Great...government thinks we need another bank to "spark" private investment...and the funding source: one way or the other, libs are trying to find a way into taking money that also isn't theirs. I find it extremely amusing that the dems control 2 of the 3 legs...but it's those mean ole republicans holding things up...as the kids say...LOL!


Comment from Catherine Brooks, (11/10/2011, 10:44 AM)

Ok, commenters, how many of you actually voted at your local elections this year? How about using our democracy as it was created to let your voice be heard there instead of complaining and taking no positive action?


Comment from Larry Zacharias, (11/10/2011, 2:27 PM)

Bridge repairs are capital-intensive employing small numbers in comparison to the dollars spent. So don’t try to sell me or the country a bridge repair program as a jobs program. Otherwise, congress will cancel the program as soon as the economy turns around (but they will keep the tax increase.) The country does need a long-term infrastructure repair program. The president needs to tell the country what it will cost per year and that the costs will be ongoing, not short term. He needs to demonstrate that the spending is not on vote buying pork. Until then, no way


Comment from John Fauth, (11/10/2011, 5:19 PM)

Last I looked the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed an infrastructure bill... unanimously. Read that again... unanimously. This bill is larger than the President's package, spends the money sooner than the President's package, and has the unanimous support of both Democrats and Republicans on the committee. Will the GOP bashers in this forum be pleased? I'm guessing they are less interested in substance and results, and more interested in scoring cheap political points.


Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (11/14/2011, 8:21 AM)

Larry, Bridge repair projects may buy quite a few expensive items (concrete and steel come to mind) - but they are typically purchased from a US concrete plant or US steel fabricator, who in turn also employ workers. The concrete plant in turn buys cement from a local cement plant and aggregate (rocks) from local quarries. At least in Texas, it is rare for the quarry to be more than a couple of counties away. It's expensive to truck rocks around.


Comment from John Fauth, (11/15/2011, 10:07 AM)

Tom, all of that is obviously true. But it doesn't invalidate Larry's observation that the job to dollar spent ratio is exceptionally low.


Comment from Jerry Trevino, (11/15/2011, 10:30 AM)

What happened to the promised unemployment level of under 8% if we spend all those BILLIONS of dollars. They got spent, where are the jobs. The fact that the private sector should be the job creators does not penetrate those thick skulls in Washington. The US infrastructure is falling apart. I see failed sewer collection systems and other buried underground infrastructure besides bridges falling apart. I do not see politicians such as Obama having a press conference besides a failed sewer pump station. The Ohio/Kentucky bridge looks more menacing and a better photo opt. With respect to Job Killers, what about the Canadian/ Us pipeline? The attempt to close down all coal mining and coal power plants, the hundreds of new regulations which will make business owners like me feel that it is better to retire earlier and have more foreign imports and foreign contractors come do business in the US. Its just not Republicans failing us.


Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (11/16/2011, 8:15 AM)

John, do you have any convenient links? I haven't seen the studies on jobs per $ spent broken out by category. Catherine: I vote in every election. National, State, local, main elections and runoffs. I was among the 4% who voted in the recent state constitutional amendment referendum.


Comment from Larry Zacharias, (11/16/2011, 11:06 AM)

Tom, It will take decades of significant spending to repair our infrastructure. Obama’s program does not come close to meeting our infrastructure needs. It also lacks an organized focus so it will become an unmanaged pork program (think Solindra.) As a jobs program, it will disappear as soon as the economy recovers and our infrastructure will still suck. The president needs to go back to the drawing board and create a long-term infrastructure rehabilitation program and sell it as a long-term infrastructure program. Anything less is just smoke and mirrors to make it look like he is doing something.


Comment from John Fauth, (11/17/2011, 8:30 AM)

Tom, they are buried in the "jobs saved, jobs created" statistics.


Comment from Jerry Trevino, (11/19/2011, 10:11 AM)

The main goal of Obama in the so-called jobs bill is to increase taxes, and if does not pass appear as he cares about infrastructure. What Obama cares is about getting Obama back in office to continue to create class warfare, racial warfare, union /non union friction, fantasy green jobs (to pay off his constituency) and in essence, Cash for Clunkers, He wants more cash and giving us more clunker policies. Our industrial base will be heading for more clunkers. To obama infrastructure is just a Buzz word. Democrats have been in charge since 2006. The swamp need to be drained during the next election. A fair tax systems need to be implemented where everyone pays taxes before we implode and China takes us over. We are so ignorant. All the factions want to protect their own interest before those of the Country. Kennedy would be a Republican today. Lets stop the darn bickering, tax everyone the same, share the work ethic not wealth, jail all the insider Washington traders as Nancy Polousy who take advance of their policy to enrich themselves. Those who entered Washington poor and now they are rich, should contribute all their wealth to reduce the deficit. I know we have very different political view in this County. We now need to have an American View. Vote on what is best for the County not for divisive factions.


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