Annals of Forgotten Stimuli

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 3 2012 10:17 AM

Annals of Forgotten Stimuli

Only one part of the great lost Jobs Bill actually passed. Back in November, the VOW to Heroes Act -- a tax credit for companies that hired veterans -- sailed through the Senate, losing only Jim DeMint on the way to Barack Obama's office. (DeMint called it a distortion of the tax code and a political trick. He wasn't going to be hornswaggled into backing some special benefit just because it had the word "heroes" in it. He's also not running for re-election in 2016.)

Did it work? It's barely gone into effect, but one of the biggest shifts in the new employment report was the rate for male veterans. In one year the unemployment rate for all veterans has fallen from 9.9 percent to 7.5 percent, from above the national average to below it. DeMint's "no" vote was totally defensible (if you want to simplify the tax code, you have to be ready to deny sweet benefits to high-polling interest groups), but this is a fine result for the people who want stimulative tax credits. Oh, and a reminder of how much easier Obama's re-election would be if the jobs bill had made it through.*

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*Reading Ryan Lizza on Obama's memos to and from economics aids, you learn how often he fretted about supporting something politically useful that would require yet more deficit spending. He nixed that stuff, and... got more heat for deficit spending anyway.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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