Politics

Jobs bill: Modest yet hopeful

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The new jobs bill moved forward on a 62-30 vote in the Senate yesterday, with the support of five Republicans, including newly-elected Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown.

Naftali Bendavid, Congress and politics reporter for the "Wall Street Journal," says the bill is focused on job creation, primarily in construction and infrastructure.

"There's a tax break for companies that hire unemployed people," said Bendavid. "There's an element that allows businesses to write off equipment upgrades. There's some help for construction bonds issued by state and local governments. And then there's an extension of federal highway transportation projects. And all of it is designed to get people working as soon as possible."

The bill is a modest measure, some say, and may create about 250,000 private sector jobs.

An earlier version of the bill, a much bigger measure that included more jobs, also included corporate tax breaks that Democrats weren't comfortable with.

"A lot of Democrats complained that there were some extraneous things in there designed to get Republican support," said Bendavid. "So Harry Reid decided to drop all those out and stay with the core job creation measures, and prevent any Republicans from offering amendments."

Although the majority of Republicans -- furious with the way the bill was handled -- voted against it, a rare bit of bi-partisanship helped move it forward.

Scott Brown (R-Mass), who voted for the bill, said while he didn't like it, some jobs were better than none. Tea Party activists are calling him "Benedict Brown" for supporting the measure.

Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, George Voinovich (R-OH) and Christopher Bond (R-MO) are the other four Republican supporters.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev), encouraged by the handful of Republican support, said he hoped it was the "beginning of a new day here in the Senate."

But Bendavid is doubtful. "I think part of what we're seeing is such a relief -- and surprise, almost -- and gratitude on the part of Democrats that they were able to get something through with Republican help, that they're hopeful this paves the way for more in the future."

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