Piecemeal ‘Jobs Bill’ Can Still Be Dangerous
Ernest Istook /
If something is too big to swallow, you cut it into bite-sized pieces. But that won’t improve the taste—unless you jettison any stinky stuff.
Likewise, the notion of splitting-up President Obama’s Senate-rejected 326-page “jobs bill” won’t improve any of the proposals.
It’s good that the break-up would prevent the classic congressional strategy of blending the good and the bad together into one piece of legislation. That strategy expects that Congressmen will hold their noses and vote for a package when they’re not given a choice to remove the worst parts.
But backup strategies are already in motion and they carry dangers as well.
Even segmented versions of Obama’s $447-billion plan can be used to squeeze in those worst parts. That’s because it’s almost impossible to get both the House and the Senate to enact identical versions of a bill, thus requiring a conference committee to “work out the differences”—which sometimes includes adding distasteful details.
Congressional leaders select the conference committee members, so it becomes an opportunity for leaders to buy votes, such as Senate leader Harry Reid did with the infamous “Cornhusker Kickback” and “Louisiana Purchase” provisions in Obamacare. (Technically, those didn’t happen in a conference committee, but the technique was the same.)
Rumors are already afoot that, in order to get support from Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Reid may relieve the oil and gas industry from punishing provisions in the bill. If so, what other Senators might want to get in on the action?
In fact, the more separate bills that are created, the more vehicles exist for political games. Splitting up the bill is already acceptable to Obama, who said in Pittsburgh. “If they don’t pass the whole package, we’re going to break it up into constituent parts,”
The threat that Washington may enact this “Son of Stimulus” legislation has not been removed by a single vote in the Senate. As Heritage Foundation President Dr. Ed Feulner often notes, “In politics, there are no permanent victories and no permanent defeats.”