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Tilting at Windmills

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July 23, 2010

SENATE MOVES ON SMALL BUSINESSES, WAR FUNDING.... It was a busy night in the Senate, and it's worth taking a moment to review what transpired.

First, senators finally secured 60 votes for a key measure in the small-business incentives bill.

The Senate voted on Thursday to include a proposed $30 billion lending program in a package of aid for small businesses, as two Republicans joined with Democrats to support the amendment. [...]

Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana and chairwoman of the small business committed, waged a fierce fight in support of the $30 billion lending program, which would be administered by the Treasury Department through local community banks.

"This is something that we want to do to help Main Street, to help small business," Ms. Landrieu said in one of a series of floor speeches. "This isn't about Wall Street. It's not about bailouts. It's not about troubled assets. It's not TARP. It's a small business lending fund, a strategic partnership with community banks."

The vote on the measure was 60 to 39, with two Republicans -- Sens. George LeMieux of Florida and George Voinovich of Ohio -- joining Democrats in support.

The Senate still has to break the Republican filibuster of the entire legislation, and the GOP still hopes to undermine the effort through pointless amendments, but the overall odds have improved considerably over the last 24 hours. The bill includes $12 billion in tax breaks for small businesses and an expansion of existing government lending programs, in addition to the community banks provision.

Soon after that vote, the Senate took up a war funding measure passed by the House. The package included the must-pass spending for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the House included $23 billion in additional domestic funding -- including $10 billion in aid to states, intended to save thousands of teachers' jobs. (The White House strongly disapproved, because the House paid for the funding by cutting the budget for education reforms.)

To keep the House version alive, the Senate needed to find 60 votes. It got 46. In the process, the Senate told the House it has to pass the stripped-down $59 billion package, lacking all of the additional domestic funding.

It's unclear how the House will respond to the take-it-or-leave-it message, but if the chamber balks at the Senate version, the Pentagon is going to be put in an awfully tricky position.

As for the funding to save thousands of teachers' jobs, Senate Dems still intend to get this done through a separate effort, but it's not clear how or when, or whether it'll be paid for.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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now is the time to call the republican's bluff. re: war funding, i think it's time to say that this war funding will increase the deficit, and since we can't add to the deficit, in order to pay for all of these republican wars, we need to have a tax increase on all of those earning over $250,000 a year.

Posted by: just bill on July 23, 2010 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

I suggest the following rhetorical tweaks:
1. Keep referring to the House, as "The PEOPLES House of Representatives.
2. Stop referring to it as the Senate, and start calling it, "The House of Lord's."
It may not be pithy, but it is factual.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on July 23, 2010 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

Lets face it, the Tea Party is made up of old white boomers either retired or soon to be retired. They don't want to pay for teachers. A waste of money. Their kids are out of school. Tea partiers who think about it will rationalize their opposition to teachers by saying they are opposed to any funding of schools above the local level. Rich districts will pay what they need, and poor districts, well, "those people" get what they deserve.

The whole damn country is turning into Florida.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 23, 2010 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

I sure hope Democrats are paying attention to how Republicans are able to block pretty much anything they want. And that they are keeping notes to point to for the media - who, like Washington in general, are wired for Republican control - when they attack Democrats to doing exactly what Republicans are doing now when or if Republicans take control and try to pass bills that hurt the middle and lower classes (that is what they do).

Posted by: terraformer on July 23, 2010 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

I hope the House doesn't cave. Then the military can bring their troops home. Everyone wins.

Posted by: rbe1 on July 23, 2010 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

It isn't entirely clear to me why Democrats keep trying to pass spending bills that aren't paid for. It seems that there are three possibilities:

1) For electoral reasons, the Dems are deliberately trying to make the bills unpalatable to the GOP to make the GOP oppose small-business funding, unemployment assistance, etc.

2) For macroeconomic reasons, the Dems don't want to offset any stimulus with spending cuts.

3) For personal reasons, the Dems don't want to raise taxes on the wealthy.

Since it would be trivial for Dems to call the bluff of the GOP and pay for additional spending by raising taxes on the wealthy or corporations, or by cutting spending on projects that favor the GOP, I can only assume that they have good reasons for not doing so.

Posted by: square1 on July 23, 2010 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

The job for the republicants is to divide .
This is a simple job , comparable to relative complexity of building a house or making it uninhabitable . One requires extensive commitment to resources , the other requires a skunk .
A divided country , fractured by the skunk republicants , appears on paper , to be a disastrously depressed , suicidal , policy . The trick it seems is resurrect booschie spirit and booschie policy platform and claim the natural consequence of blockheaded booschian disaster policy are in effect the responsibility of Obama .
This requires magical thinking . I am thinking of one policy platform or attitude of the republicants that is not based on magical processes , and that is bullying coupled with racism . So without the magic of reversing reality , the KKKrepublicants are not so hard to understand . Aside from the smell , they are a cute little animal that works best at night only associating with of family , no other stink will do .

Posted by: FRP on July 23, 2010 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

I think it's fascinating that the GOP blocked a $30 billion measure to provide tax breaks for small business. After all, the main rationale Republicans give for wanting to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy is that letting the tax cuts expire would 'hurt small businesses'.

The argument is bullshit, of course, like most other GOP talking points. But it's interesting that apparently the Bush tax breaks to 'help small business' are good, while this $30 billion dollar package of tax breaks which actually helps small businesses is bad somehow.

And I haven't heard any prominent voices raise this point.

Posted by: David Bailey on July 23, 2010 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

The convenience of magical thinking is a rovian advertisers dream come true . It costs nothing because it does the same , and you still can get the rubes to muddle out the number of angels on the head of a pin .

Posted by: FRP on July 23, 2010 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

Next the Republicans will be holding out for a tax break to all their constituents who wish to hire their own militias! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on July 23, 2010 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

square1, I agree with you. I just fear that the 'good reasons' are defined as good by the personal inclinations of too many Democrats. That is, the tarnishing influence of corporate money from established interests. So many issues tend to be quite an easy call objectively, yet they always seem to be approached on the uneasy path.

Unless or until we have true campaign finance reform in this country, too many of our representatives will represent monied interests instead of unmonied ones - those who need the most representation and help.

Posted by: terraformer on July 23, 2010 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone else read about the dire straits California is in, massive unemployment,layoffs of public workers etc. Also apparently California is home to 10% of the world's billionaires.
The republicans and their tax breaks for the richest people want us all to be like California!

Posted by: js on July 23, 2010 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

So 51 Senators don;t support the troops? Good to know...

Posted by: Pat on July 23, 2010 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

david bailey: I think it's fascinating that the GOP blocked a $30 billion measure to provide tax breaks for small business.

It's not $30 billion in tax breaks, and the GOP hasn't blocked it. The $30 billion that got past the threatened GOP filibuster is for loans to small businesses, primarily through community banks. The larger package, that has yet to garner 60 votes, has $12 billion in tax cuts. It's all in the article.

Posted by: cr on July 23, 2010 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

I can't believe it even as I type it, but the Senate is in the right here. Military spending bills should spend money on the military, and that's it. Have the debate as to whether we spend too much or whether we should pull out of Afghanistan, or whatever. But don't hold national security hostage to domestic politics. It's wrong when the Republicans do it. It's wrong when the Democrats do it, too.

Posted by: Bernard Gilroy on July 23, 2010 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans voting against funding Our Troops In Time of War?!?!? I'm sure this will be a headline on Fox.

Posted by: paul on July 23, 2010 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

The sad thing is that this bill entered the Senate as just the small business/other stimulus bill. Since there are no germane amendment rules in the Senate the war funding was added and then the stimulus was stripped out to make it smaller. Now minus the tax credits it'll go back to the House with literally nothing that was in the original bill (which would of helped the economy).

Sigh.

Posted by: Jmauro on July 23, 2010 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

The sad thing is that this bill entered the Senate as just the small business/other stimulus bill. Since there are no germane amendment rules in the Senate the war funding was added and then the stimulus was stripped out to make it smaller. Now minus the tax credits it'll go back to the House with literally nothing that was in the original bill (which would of helped the economy).

Sigh.

Posted by: Jmauro on July 23, 2010 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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