Jonathan Chait

The Jobless Jobs Bill

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The political upside for Democrats to crafting a bipartisan jobs bill is obvious: they get a "win" on an issue the public cares about, and they show they can work with the opposition party, which people want them to do. There is, however, a downside. Securing Republican support means whittling the bill down to the verge of meaninglessness. And then you get blamed for the meaninglessness. Here's the A.P.:

It's a bipartisan jobs bill that would hand President Barack Obama a badly needed political victory and placate Republicans with tax cuts at the same time. But it has a problem: It won't create many jobs.

Even the Obama administration acknowledges the legislation's centerpiece - a tax cut for businesses that hire unemployed workers - would work only on the margins.

As for the bill's effectiveness, tax experts and business leaders said companies are unlikely to hire workers just to receive a tax break. Before businesses start hiring, they need increased demand for their products, more work for their employees and more revenue to pay those workers.

I still think it's a smart move for Democrats. But it does show just how steep the price of securing bipartisan support actually is -- you're reduced to essentially symbolic legislation.

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