As expected, President Barack Obama’s $447 billion jobs plan appeared to have stalled Tuesday in the Senate, reflecting a cavernous ideological divide over economic growth strategies and helping to set the stage for what is expected to be a bitterly contested 2012 campaign.
An unofficial tally taken by reporters and the press gallery staff showed 50 votes in support of the bill and 48 against — falling short of the 60 required for the bill to proceed. Technically, the vote is being held open so that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, can weigh in.
Shaheen is expected to back the bill, meaning it would have majority support even if it doesn’t go anywhere. Two Democrats — Ben Nelson of Nebraska and John Tester of Montana — voted against it. Tester said, in a prepared statement, that “the things I support in this bill are outweighed by the things I can’t support,” including “sending billions of dollars in bailout aid to states.”
The bill wasn’t designed to pass. If it was, Obama wouldn’t have loaded it up with tax hikes knowing that Republicans would reject them out of hand. It was designed to draw a party-line vote resulting in a filibuster so that O could (a) blame the GOP for the next 13 months of malaise while (b) claiming that they’d rather protect the rich (the one percent!!!) from new tax burdens than help America recover. He almost got that tonight — sort of. Turns out Lieberman, Manchin, and Jim Webb all agreed to help Obama out with his talking points by voting yes on cloture even though they would have voted no on the final bill. As of a few hours ago, the final tally was so uncertain that lefty Greg Sargent feared Obama wouldn’t even get most Democrats to vote yes, but in the end he did get it. So now The One gets to say, falsely, that a majority of his party backs the plan and that they’re once again being thwarted by those darned obstructionist wingnuts. (That’s why Reid is holding the vote open for Shaheen even though enough votes for a filibuster have already been recorded. O wants to be able to say he had a majority of the entire Senate voting yes.) If only Nelson and Tester had stuck with the caucus, it would have been a perfect outcome for him. None of this gets America any closer to a bipartisan new stimulus, but it might get O a bit closer to being re-elected. And that’s what’s important.
Here he is at his latest “big speech” this afternoon, telling the crowd that tonight’s vote was a “moment of truth” even though he knew full well that the bill was doomed from day one. And intentionally so.