Huffington Post

Senate Republicans Successfully Filibuster American Jobs

[My latest for the Huffington Post]

When I heard President Obama announce The American Jobs Act, I mistakenly thought the Republicans wouldn't dare vote against "American jobs."

For the first time, the Democrats had come up with a title for a bill that borrowed the successful Republican tactic of naming legislation in a way that makes it politically impossible to vote against. You probably remember some of the good ones. The Republicans aggressively triple-dog-dared members of Congress to vote against the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act. After all, who would be idiotic enough to go on record as having voted against the "USA" and "patriotism", especially when it's shouted in all-caps during the aftermath of 9/11?

Only one senator, Russ Feingold, voted against it. One.

The Bush years also gave us Orwellian titles like the "death tax", the Healthy Forests Initiative and Clear Skies Act. Incidentally, the Clear Skies Act was a cap-and-trade program that was fully supported by the Republicans and the Bush White House. Weird how that works.

Pollster and Fox News Channel contributor Frank Luntz is often credited with popularizing the use of tricky opposite-day titles. In fact, he's often credited with coining the pejorative misnomer "Democrat Party" in lieu of the correct "Democratic Party" title in order to emphasize the "rat" syllable and to strip the party of its association with democratic politics. (It's also worth noting that Luntz urged Republicans to use the less dire term "climate change" instead of "global warming." Today, I often hear even far-left liberals mistakenly using this Luntz euphemism. It's just that successful.)

But there it was. The American Jobs Act.

The Republicans didn't just vote against "American jobs," they literally filibustered them. While the GOP presidential candidates debated their plans to further screw the American economy Tuesday night, every single Republican senator approved the filibuster and overwhelmingly blocked The American Jobs Act from even coming to a vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

No, there isn't a 9/11 disaster to provide an awful, acrid wind in the sails of this particular bill. But there are a variety of other factors that should have at least stirred a sense of humanity and patriotism within the congressional Republican caucus.

Unemployment is stuck at 9.1 percent. Corporations are sitting on $2 trillion in cash, in fact, the largest pile of liquid assets since 1959, and they aren't spending that money on anything, much less new jobs since they've convinced their existing employees to do twice the work for lower pay and dwindling benefits. Simultaneously, corporate profits are at an all-time high, corporate taxes are at an all-time low and middle class wages have been stagnant for decades. The political discourse is aired on cable as though it was a football game, while real Americans lose their homes and corporate criminals sashay between the rain drops unpunished -- many of them failing up to better gigs.

Meanwhile, the president, who's only been in office for less than three years, is being blamed for all of it, while the 30 year dominance of trickle-down small-government Reaganomics is receiving another boost of adrenaline from the austerity movement. How well is austerity doing, by the way? In England, where austerity rules the day, unemployment reached its highest level in 17 years this week. Despite its obvious failure elsewhere, the Republicans -- especially the ones running for president -- want to slash everything in sight despite a supermajority of public support for raising taxes on the super rich. Even a majority of Republican voters support a tax increase on the wealthy. And when they're not deliberately sabotaging the economy by opposing anything that might fuel the economic recovery, they're focusing on jobs -- and by "focusing on jobs" I mean "de-funding Planned Parenthood" and "legislating James O'Keefe prank videos."

Lumped all together, it's no wonder why the Occupy Wall Street movement is gaining so much momentum. The Republicans are inadvertently feeding it every day.

What would the American Jobs Act have accomplished?

The bill would have reduced the deficit by $6 billion over ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The Republicans filibustered deficit reduction.

The bill would have created nearly two million new jobs. The Republicans filibustered the creation of two million new jobs.

The bill would have increased the gross domestic product (GDP) by two points. The Republicans filibustered increasing the GDP.

The bill would have cut taxes for 98 percent of businesses. The Republicans filibustered a tax cut for businesses.

The bill would have offered a tax credit for military veterans returning from war. The Republicans filibustered a tax credit for the troops.

The bill would have reduced unemployment by a full percentage point. The Republicans filibustered a reduction in unemployment.

The bill would have been paid for by a 5.6 percent surtax on millionaires -- a surtax that, again, a majority of Republican voters support. The Republicans filibustered paying for the bill.

The ultimate irony here is that, despite it all, the Republicans have a solid chance of winning the White House next year. Obviously they're counting on the collective attention deficit disorder of the American voter who will naturally forget about how the Senate Republicans filibustered the American Jobs Act on top of having presided over the destruction of the economy as well as a horrendous record on job creation during the Bush years when they controlled the Congress and the White House, and when they cut taxes to the lowest rates in American history. Still no jobs, and yet they believe that further tax cuts will somehow create more jobs even though the Bush tax cut succeeded in accomplishing nothing except to contribute to a doubling of the national debt while it turned a surplus into a record deficit. Yeah. Let's have more of that.

If you're angry about the gloomy status of the economy, bookmark this post and remind yourself occasionally which group of politicians filibustered an iron-clad solution for job creation and economic growth. And tell your friends about it, too, because even if you can't participate in one of the Occupy Wall Street protests, you can help to spread the word about who supported American jobs and who tried to kill American jobs.

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  • D_C_Wilson

    I’m sorry to say that I saw the republican filibuster coming, Bob. The GOP would filibuster a bill to keep their own mothers alive if it meant denying Obama a victory.

  • mrbrink


    • Friction_Soul


      • Bob Rutledge

        Monty Python’s Flying Circus?

  • mrbrink

    “Obama hasn’t done anything to help the economy!” says the comment under an article about the American Jobs Act.

    “Obama’s weak on national security!” says another after an article about the killing of Bin Laden.

    “He’s done nothing special for the LGBT community!” replying to an article about DADT repeal.

    Comments all over the place, from calling the president a tax cutting Marxist, or union thug Wall Street crony, a stimulus spending, healthcare-expanding, sell out to American business interests… this is like a Rorschach test presidency, with the media playing the role of Dr. Flashcard Flashy-Thingy jotting down all the crazy pharma-induced visions leftover from the wrong side of Wounded Knee.

    There are no right or wrong answers anymore. Only Zuul, and a couple of wavy lines. Belligerence is contention. Lies are commentary. Jesus Christ is a political prisoner? What?

    On and on it goes. The “other” is the divisive one.

    If Republicans have any chance at the White House, it’s because the negro looks uppity and inferior from Mt. White Eye.

    • Rick Janes

      But just look at how it’s all backfiring on the corporate righties. A recent Fox News poll showed 70 percent of their audience agreed with the OWS movement; the OWS movement is now on every continent except Antarctica and in over a thousand US cities, in less than a month. I think they’ve tapped a deep reservoir of national resentment, even more so that the bought-off Teabaggers. John Dryden said “Beware the fury of the patient man [and woman].” I think we are seeing that fury unleashed nonviolently with OWS, and it will eventually help Obama’s reelection, especially now that he’s been moving more to the left in his rhetoric.

  • muselet

    … [E]very single Republican senator approved the filibuster and overwhelmingly blocked The American Jobs Act from even coming to a vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

    It’s even worse than that: the Republican senators didn’t block a vote on the American Jobs Act, they blocked a routine motion to debate the American Jobs Act. The Rs don’t even want to talk about jobs, let alone do anything.


  • JWheels

    Speaking of the power of words, it occurred to me that the people who need the most convincing that Republicans absolutely do not have their interests in mind might feel like filibuster is too big or ‘wonky’ a word. I propose that whenever we talk about Republicans filibustering legislation, we just call it what it is which is blocking it.

  • holyreality

    You really need to work for the Democratic Party in their messaging department.

    What? They have no message department?

    Of course they don’t, a modern Democrat is more interested in playing fair, and letting the frothing at the mouth right pundits control the narrative.

    Where oh where, outside of Rachel’s hour is anyone listing the facts like you Bob?


    It takes repeated hammering over the figurative forehead of these thick skulled “intellectuals” to get the factual message through the Ayn Randian bullshit before logic and reason can supplant superstitious Koch Brother/Herm Cain Mythology.

    But one person lists the facts, once, and they are doomed to be ignored for talking like a fag.

  • dildenusa

    So far the only corporate media outlet to have anything about Herman Cain’s pizza parlor tax plan is MSNBC.
    Even Cain himself is clueless about certain aspects of his plan. The fact that his plan would force the working class poor and middle class to pay a lot more in taxes seems to have left a gaping void in Cain’s brain. Cain is obviously nothing but an opportunist riding the tea party republic wave until the republican convention and hope that the nominee (I believe will be Romney) picks him as running mate to bring in the tea party and evangelical voters.

    • bphoon

      Herman Cain=another “flavor of the week”+lousy pizza

    • Rick Janes

      And no one in the MSM mentions how self-serving Cain’s ‘999’ policy is — he’d go from (supposedly) paying 35 percent in taxes to 9 percent — what a deal for him. Of course, the same MSM Usual Media Suspects also didn’t bring up how good Bush’s tax cuts were for the Bush family. Ah, the ‘embedded’ — in the prostitutorial sense — American media.

    • Rick Janes

      Of course, dildenusa, being vague and clueless about your plans isn’t a detriment to a GOP candidate. Specificity and fact scare the base. I have to admit I’m getting a laugh at the middle-class Cain followers who think they’ll only pay 9 percent in income tax while not factoring in the increases in other taxes, such as sales tax, they’d be paying. It’s what gave Rush Limbaugh a career in radio.

  • missliberties

    Just a shout out to the OWS movement. Take Bill Clinton’s advice. You can’t just always be against something. We know things have gone wrong. You need to be for something specific. May I recommend the American Jobs Act.

    At minimum we need to support an infrastructure bank.

    • jjasonham

      Have you read the OWS list of demands? Sure sounds like they’re “for” something to me. Removal of corporate personhood is just one of them.

      • missliberties

        It would be great if there was a concerted oft repeated drum beat to scorch these message onto the American electorates brains.

        I’ll bet that everyone knows that Herman Cain has a 9-9-9 tax plan, even if they don’t know the details.

        It would be fantastically wonderful if OWS could practice the discipline it takes to have that message resonate and be as easy to remember.

        As it stands now the media is just seeing mostly a mish mash.

        • jjasonham

          This is where I take issue. To judge the potency of a protest based on the way the Media is reacting to it is completely backwards. The media has been nothing but dismissive, when the same media did most of the Tea Party’s work for them. This is a movement addressing a list of grievances. Because there are no soundbites in the media doesn’t mean they aren’t there. The people who say OWS isn’t for anything hasn’t done their research. There are plenty of people who get it. And there is no need to hold up a movement to make sure you have all questions addressed, all at once, right now, if there is a sustained effort.

          *Edit addition*
          I don’t mean to sound contentious. It’s just that OWS is very personal for me. I live in NYC. I was down there on the very first day. Many of my friends and I are involved, and have witnessed, first hand, every little bit seen in the news, including the aggressiveness of the police. Bigger than that, however, is the realization that so many people I’ve encountered are as diverse as they come, and they all understand exactly what this is for. I also encounter people here in NYC who are quick to dismiss it, but only need a little discussion with someone following it to understand. Most of the time, they just simply didn’t know. This is in big part because of the media.

          • missliberties

            I don’t think the general public is interested in ‘doing the research’. If you hope that they will then you won’t get very far.

            We already see some on the left advocating for ‘revolution’ whatever that means, and holding signs that aren’t really constructive to the movement, like ‘down with capitlism’ or ‘Marx had all the answers’.

            If the folks could coordinate to have one day be about corporations as people, and another day about bailing out the banks.

            The general public gets the sense of frustration. We all suffer from that. All I am saying is that it easy to always be against something, but people need a pro-active solution, like the JOBS BILL, or an INFRASTRUCTURE BANK, to get the American people to focus on SOLUTIONS. We all know everyone is angry. The tea party is angry. The left is angry.

          • jjasonham

            No. You’re the “hoping” for something to happen. Namely the media doing everything it can to inform the general public. That is wishful thinking. Anything, and everything you are asking for is being addressed. Because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. The process is happening outside of the MSM, but that doesn’t mean it’s outside of the mainstream.

            Also, the people who are mostly involved with this protest are from a different generation than the people who led other major protests in our country’s history. There is some overlap in strategy but there are different tools and different tactics also at play. Like the General Assemblies, for instance. This is a crowdsourcing of information…including coming up with a more efficient list of demands. All of this is currently happening, and it is ALL about solutions.

            OWS is not just the left. It is not the FOIL to the Tea Party. It is mostly made of up people who are calling for a restoration of reason and accountability. Last I checked, the Tea Party was calling for an end of government.

          • missliberties

            That’s great. Glad to see you are taking diverse opinions on board.

            Hopefully you are open minded enough and objective enough to recognize that perception is reality.

            My suggestion is that the message by more focused and specific.

            Calling for a restoration of reason and accountability is easy. I call for world peace. Much more difficult to actually incorporate specifics assuming you want to work within the government and not overthrow it.

          • jjasonham

            That’s the beauty of it all: The diversity of opinions, and no one is so angry that they can’t think clearly. Perception is reality is painfully clear within the Occupy Movement, that’s why there are cameras, media contact points, their publication Occupied Wall Street Journal, are everywhere. People are definitely coming up with more specificity TOGETHER, which is the most important aspect. Most of the pushback is from people who say nothing should be until those specifics are defined and memorized. I understand you’re not one of those people, and I don’t want it come off that I’m being close minded. Thanks for your input.

          • missliberties

            My interest is to see this movement succeed in raising awareness, and be successful in pushing our politicians.

            I don’t want to see it be mischaracterized because a few fringe elements. Which I suppose is impossible to avoid.

          • bphoon

            In following your discussion with missliberties, one thing comes immediately to mind, and I suppose it’s because I’m a sales guy. The reason so many “Frank Luntz-isms” are so successful with the general public is because they’re so easily digestible.

            You and I–and most of the people in this forum–can and will follow the details and research to grasp the length and breadth of an issue. Most “out there”, however, won’t and that’s who the MSM speaks to, insofar as they speak to anyone.

            I agree wholeheartedly with what you’re describing and I am confident that OWS’s message can get out without the help of the larger MSM.
            But I also agree with missliberties–nothing much goes anywhere in this society, unfortunately, without being effectively packaged and marketed.

            OWS has a vital message but it won’t get heard by the wider audience unless organizers coordinate and focus it and aim it at Mom & Pop out there in Anywhere, USA. I’m not saying the MSM must be pandered to in order to do this or that the message must necessarily be dumbed down. OWS must, however, find common ground and, therefore, common cause, with Mom & Pop who are struggling and are probably angry at the banks and larger financial system, too. It’s OWS’s job to help them define the source of their anger and frustration and focus their energy where it belongs in terms that are easy for the lay person to understand.

            Otherwise, OWS is vulnerable to being brushed off by the majority of people who can ultimately make a difference as just another bunch of crackpot hippie Marxists who hate America.

          • IrishGrrrl

            jjason, I’ve been sparring with idjits online at who were making fun of the dirty hippies getting beat up by the cops. It really pisses me off that they think its okay for the cops to beat up on liberal demonstrators but everyone else is fine. Plus its no laughing matter when the police abuse their power (coming from a former LEO here).

          • jjasonham

            The tone of all discussion in this country is insane.

    • staci

      Just left the Occupy Chicago demonstration. The march on Bank of America has caused them to close their doors at the branch on the corner of LaSalle and Adams. There were approximately 30 people laying on the floor of the concourse, but they were just arresting them when I had to come back in to work. Several people have signs pressed to the windows facing inward saying “Stop the Killing – B of A is slashing 30,000 jobs, the equivialent of laying off every runner in Sunday’s B of A Marathon.”

      I’m on the 21st floor, and I can hear them loud and clear.

      • missliberties

        So other than that, what was your impression? :)

        • staci

          I would like to see a little more direction from day-to-day on the message instead of just beating on drums and yelling the slogans kinda haphazardly. Yesterday was great because a group calling themselves Take Back Chicago came over to help out, and they seem to have three messages which they focus on, one each day – jobs, education/schools and the discrepancy between what used to be the middle class and the now upper 1%. I think it was this focus that made B of A close down yesterday. I mean, Occupy Chicago has been protesting their building for two weeks now, but yesterday was the first time they got a clear reaction from the bank. TBC also demonstrated and had a press conference on the mall of the Board of Trade. Occupy Chicago has been kept away from that area although it’s only 200 yards from where they protest every day.

          The media attention is growing daily. At first, it just seemed to be bloggers. Then some international media came through and now the local media is out there daily.

          • missliberties

            That’s awesome.

          • jjasonham

            This video gives a great description of what is going on outside of the media attention…more than bongo drums or dancing. It shows the diversity and passion and it brought a tear to my eye. Reaching consensus is a slow and sometimes messy process. The process that OWS is using is truly getting to the heart of the matter, so that when it is time strike, it will be with a potency that cannot be denied. Like finally hitting the curve in exponential growth. In the video you’ll see that this process is learned to be spread to other Occupations.


            Also, Bloomberg canceled the “eviction” of Zucotti park this morning. The eviction was under the guise of “cleaning” the park. You should have seen how many protesters arrived in support, and on top of that, started cleaning the park!

          • staci

            THIS is what democracy looks like!

      • Rick Janes

        Thanks for that, Staci. I wanted to know what the people inside the buildings were thinking. I suspect there are many who side with the OWS movement but can’t speak up in the office. I heard that some of those who are wearing the ‘V’ masks are off-duty cops who can’t afford to be seen at the protests.

        • staci

          I’m really amazed to see the number of men that have shown up in their suits and ties to beat the drums. Even on Saturday, there was a guy that had clearly just left work, yet there he was beating away.

    • Rick Janes

      missliberties, here are the first four things the OWS movement is for:

      – Reinstate Glass-Steagall
      – Audit the FED
      – Reverse Citizens United (via Constitutional Amendment)
      – Overhaul the tax code for the mega-rich (1%) and corporations”
      – From “#OWS: Take this video VIRAL, NOW!” Daily Kos, Oct. 9, 2011.

  • missliberties

    Keep after it Bob.

    This is the message.

    Plus the petty little details of Cain’s tax plan actually drastically favors the wealthy while asking the poor to pay more.

    • nicole

      Plus the petty little details of Cain’s tax plan actually drastically favors the wealthy while asking the poor to pay more.


      An understatement, at that. 9-9-9 is an outrage, and should give all Americans the impetus to stand up and cheer for #OWS.

  • staci


    Can I copy and distribute at Occupy Chicago?

  • Dan_in_DE

    Here’s a good link on the the spinning of ‘global warming’ into ‘climate change’.

    It’s a good illustrative point to make, but you need to keep in mind that scientists use the term climate change is not just a synonym as talking heads on the news do, but rather as a more accurate heading to denote the impacts of a steadily warming planet. Commenter Walt Palmer at the above link provides a pretty good explanation:

    “I use both terms but I use them in a way that makes things clearer for me; the distinction that I support is this: Global warming should be used to describe the increase in the Earth’s global average temperature; climate change should be used to describe the effects of this warming. Climate change effects are more complex than the simple rise in temperature. In fact it’s conceivable that global warming, by changing patterns of air and ocean circulation could result in lower average temperatures for a specific region. But climate change can be used to talk about storm intensity, storm frequency, regional chronic aridity, frequency of drought events, frequency of extreme rainfall events and other non-temperature phenomena that result from the overall rise in global temperature.”

  • Razor

    Not that it has much to do with the overall point of the article, I always thought “climate change” sounded more dire than “global warming.” Global warming sounds almost pleasant, especially in the middle of a midwest winter.

    But yeah, everything else is spot on. Republicans are scumbags that hate Americans and will do whatever they have to in order to block the democratically-elected president and his agenda.

    • IrishGrrrl

      Razor, I think it was simply different than Global Warming, which had been around such a long time that even the most uninformed person would associate it with a hole in the ozone layer. Plus the “global” meant that it would affect everyone everywhere…which is more dire by definition. Climate change is a more localized term….so who cares if some small island goes underwater…it won’t hurt us here in middle America….it definitely minimizes the threat psychologically.

      • Razor

        How about “global climate change”? Or “climate crisis,” though I’m sure the Republicans will just love that one.