"Once upon a time, you dressed so fine, threw a bum a dime, didn't you?"--Bob Dylan
A bipartisan jobs bill can be passed, quickly, without any need to talk, plead, cajole or make deals with Republicans or recalcitrant Democrats. That is, if the Democratic leadership had even a scintilla of guile that they have yet to display.
Nearly a year ago James Boyce and I suggested ("Will John Boehner Really Say 'Thanks But No Thanks' To Stimulus Funds?", February 19, 2009) that Republicans in the House who had voted against the stimulus plan be challenged on the House floor to declare whether they wanted any of the money in their districts -- with the Democratic majority willing to support whatever their decision was. It was a way, after the vote, of calling their bluff.
Since that time, as the President pointed out at their conference meeting, the very same people who voted against it, showed up at ribbon cutting ceremonies in their districts basking in the glory of a project and jobs that the stimulus bill had funded.
This time, why wait until after the bill -- bruised, revised and made less effective, begging for votes -- makes it through Congress? Instead, write into the bill that the money for jobs, and the tax credits, everything possible that can be geographically limited, will only be spent in districts whose Members of Congress support it, and only in states where at least one of their Senators voted for it.
Of course there will be wailing and moaning by Members and Senators whose lies and hypocrisy will, finally, be exposed. It will be couched in "buying votes" language.
Really? Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) has put a hold on all President Obama's appointees unless he gets $45B to projects in his state. Another Republican Senator held up one of the President's nominees until he got money for a building in his state (Kansas). They all put earmarks for their districts and states into bills.
Moreover, the Republicans claim that these jobs bills do not work anyhow. So, one could retort, why the wailing and moaning...according to these people, no jobs are lost since the programs do not work.
With these provisions, the jobs bill can pass quickly -- indeed, the Senate can use reconciliation so there will not even be a filibuster. The wailing and moaning will continue for a week, and then the media will move to another story. In the meantime the jobs bill will pass, and Republicans (and Democrats) who vote against it will have to answer to their states and districts as to why none of the jobs are coming to them.
Or, more likely, "bipartisanship" shall magically flower ahead of the cherry blossoms in Washington D.C.