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Congress blocks jobs bill

U.S. President Barack Obama unveils his jobs plan at a Joint Session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Kai Ryssdal: President Obama went to Pittsburgh today. Union visit, a speech or two -- pretty basic politicking trip.

Except for this: The president said he'd do whatever it takes to get even a part of his half a trillion dollar jobs bill to pass. That's a pretty astute reading of the tea leaves, 'cause late this afternoon the Senate rejected his mix of tax cuts and infrastructure spending.

Which brings us to Plan B: What can be salvaged that both Democrats and Republicans will support. From Washington, Marketplace's David Gura reports.


David Gura: In Washington, there are the political realities. And the public seems to understand that. Michael Dimock is with the Pew Research Center.

Michael Dimock: There's a lot of skepticism about what the government can really do about the situation.

And that's not unwarranted. After today's defeat, the Senate Democratic leadership moves to a smaller Plan B. Negotiations and deal making started before the vote. Some Democrats indicated they'd trade, say, a corporate tax holiday for a national infrastructure bank.

Andrew Fieldhouse is with the Economic Policy Institute.

Andrew Fieldhouse: I think provisions of this could pass independently, but I don't think you're going to get the scale that you need to make a real dent in the unemployment rate.

There was never much bipartisan agreement on the jobs bill -- or how to pay for it. Most Senate Democrats favored a higher tax on millionaires, and Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup, says the majority of Americans liked that idea.

Frank Newport: One of the most valid findings we have, in the sense of being able to replicate it again and again and again and again, is that Americans favor more taxes on the rich.

But Republicans -- and some Democrats -- opposed the tax increase. And Republicans opposed President Obama's plan to spend billions on infrastructure.

Isabel Sawhill is with the Brookings Institution. She says lawmakers still may agree on a payroll tax cut.

Isabel Sawhill: I would think that idea of cutting payroll taxes for employers, for businesses might have some appeal to them.

Still, many economists say you need to spend more on infrastructure and cut taxes to create jobs. But in Washington today, something -- anything -- may be better than nothing.

In Washington, I'm David Gura for Marketplace.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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