Monday, June 13, 2011

"Gridlocking the lives of the jobless"

E. J. Dionne Jr:
Welcome to the miserable world of no-way-out politics.

The economy needs another jolt, but Congress is in gridlock. Democrats, or most of them, realize that their political futures and the well-being of millions of households hang on whether unemployment can be brought down. Yet Republicans have the capacity to block even the smallest steps forward.

Here’s what the Democrats’ agony looks like from the inside. Last Thursday, Senate Democrats devoted their weekly policy lunch to a simple question: What proposals to spur job-creation have any chance of passing Congress, given Republican control of the House and the effective veto power the GOP has in a Senate where a simple majority no longer rules?

The agenda was organized by Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York. He doesn’t need a pollster to tell him that jobs are his party’s make-or-break issue.

“The voters gave us two mandates in 2010, not one,” he said in an interview. “They told us we should reduce the deficit and get rid of wasteful spending. We ignore that at our peril. But they also told us to create jobs, grow the economy and help the middle class stretch their paychecks.” Washington, Schumer says, is ignoring the second instruction.

The senators concluded that the only stimulative measures with any chance of getting Republican votes involve tax cuts. That’s why you’re hearing a lot of talk about extending the payroll tax cut another year, and perhaps extending it to the part of the tax that employers pay. MORE...

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