The Wall Street Journal reports:
The stubbornly weak U.S. employment picture is ratcheting up pressure on Washington to fix what ails the labor market, but policy makers and economists are concluding there’s no magic bullet to boost jobs. Opinion is split over which, if any, of the policies in play offers the best hope of spurring employment. Even those who advocate government action say federal efforts can only reduce, not repair, the labor market. More than eight-million jobs have been lost during the recession, a deficit compounded by the fact the economy needs to add more than one million jobs annually simply to keep up with the growth of the labor force.
Despite ample evidence that stimulus spending plans under both the Bush and Obama administrations haven’t done much for private-sector hiring, liberals persist in demanding more and more stimulus spending. Republicans favor tax cuts. Up until now, Democrats largely ignored the suggestions coming from Republicans. As Obama so boldly put it, “We won.” Well, they just lost one in Massachusetts and now, we hear, are scrambling to get some Republican buy-in on Son of Stimulus.
The bill has shifted from a sweeping piece of legislation to a smaller, bipartisan bill — loaded up with tax cuts to gain Republican support. With Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown’s swearing-in Thursday evening, the Democrats no longer have the 60 votes they need to overcome a GOP filibuster by themselves.
“We are completely changing the strategy to go for a bill that can get Republican buy-in and pass,” said a Democratic aide. . . .
Moderate Democrats — spooked by the loss in Massachusetts last month — are putting intense pressure on leadership to move a jobs-focus bill before the Senate leaves for February recess. They demanded that Baucus forgo marking up the legislation in his committee, fearing that it would slow down movement of the bill. . . .
[Sen. Chuck] Grassley is demanding that any bill he negotiates be kept out of what one of his aides called a “Dems-only spending fest.” He also wants a commitment that Democrats will take up the estate tax in a “timely manner” — as well as an extension of a series of corporate tax breaks like the research and development credit.
Whether liberals will accept a bill with ample tax cuts remains to be seen. But one thing is clear: Democrats looking at the economic and political landscape can no longer keep doing what they’ve been doing this past year — i.e., spending gobs of money in the name of reducing unemployment. It is an admission of their own shortcomings in both policy and politics that they must finally reach across the aisle to the Republican minority. Imagine how much better they (and the country) might have been, had they done this a year ago.