The American Jobs Act: Born to Die

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 12 2011 8:58 AM

The American Jobs Act: Born to Die

Looking back over my posts and pieces from yesterday, I'm remembering that I wrote nothing about the failure of the American Jobs Act in the U.S. Senate. Nothing about that; nothing about the earth's continued revolution around the sun, or about plants using photosynthesis to live. What I mean is that nobody ever expected the AJA to pass. Born on September 8, it died immediately -- it just took until October 11 to get a coroner's report.

Helpfully, hours before the vote, Chuck Schumer gave the game away.

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At the end of August, who do you have more faith in to create jobs, to get the economy going? Forty percent Obama, 40 percent Republicans in Congress. After a month of the president bringing it to the people it's 49 Obama, 34 Republican. They can't live with numbers like that!

Republicans were philosophically opposed to the bill. As Eric Cantor said yesterday, "50 percent of the cost of the bill is stimulus money. We don't believe that the stimulus itself helped things. In fact, it made matters worse." Cantor speaks for the vast majority of House Republicans; the bill would never have come up even if it wasn't filibustered. The point of this exercise was to use the heft of the presidency to convince voters of what Democrats thought to be true: They wanted to create jobs using Keynesian policy tools, while Republicans were dithering over ideological fights and 2012 politics. But that's not really fair -- Republicans have passed their own measures doomed by legislative reality, and now they're focusing on trade deals.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.