POLITICS

Senate shuts down Obama's jobs bill

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Obama said that the plan - more than half the size of his 2009 economic stimulus measure - would be an insurance policy against a double-dip recession and that continued economic intervention was essential given slower-than-hoped job growth.

(Photo: Associated Press)

"Right now, our economy needs a jolt," Obama said. "Right now."

Unlike the 2009 legislation, the current plan would be paid for with a 5.6 percent surcharge on income exceeding $1 million. That would be expected to raise about $450 billion over the coming decade.

"Democrats' sole proposal is to keep doing what hasn't worked - along with a massive tax hike that we know won't create jobs," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday, saying there are 1.5 million fewer jobs than when Obama's 2009 economic package became law. "Why on earth would you support an approach that we already know won't work?" McConnell said.

The White House and Democratic leaders, however, were pleased that the great majority of Democrats voted for the plan. Support among Democrats was shored up by replacing Obama's tax increases - particularly a proposal to limit the value of itemized deductions for families making more than $250,000 - with the surcharge on millionaires.

That millionaires proposal would hit about 392,000 households, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank. In 2013, the first year the tax would take effect, those wealthy households would see their taxes increase by an average of $110,500, according to the analysis.

Just before the vote on Obama's jobs plan, the Senate passed legislation aimed at punishing China for keeping its currency undervalued against the dollar. Lower-valued currency helps Chinese exports at the expense, bill supporters say, of American jobs.

Next, both the House and Senate will turn Wednesday to approving trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea that could create tens of thousands of jobs, one of the few areas of agreement between Republicans and the administration on boosting the economy.

In coming weeks and months, Democrats promise further votes on jobs. But it remains to be seen how much of that effort will involve more campaign-stoked battles with Republicans and how much will include seeking common ground in hopes of passing legislation.

Leaders of the GOP-controlled House have signaled they support tax cuts for small businesses and changes to jobless insurance to allow states to use unemployment funds for on-the-job training. And they've indicated they'll be willing to accept an extension of cuts to the Social Security payroll tax. But stimulus-style spending is a nonstarter with the tea party-infused chamber.

Tuesday's vote played out as disaffected crowds continued to occupy Wall Street, a square in Washington and parts of other cities around the country in protest of income inequality and related issues.

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