Shortly after the vote, the majority leader, Senator Harry Reid, turned to the small-business bill, one of the few items left on the Senate’s dwindling agenda before the August recess. Indeed, it had been on the floor intermittently over the last several weeks, only to be pulled to make way for other legislation including the extension of unemployment insurance.
But with some Democrats viewing the small-business bill as critical to their political prospects in November, Senate Republicans were not about to let it through easily, and have insisted on a chance to offer amendments.
In a bid to save the bill, Democrats released a new version of it on Wednesday night without a $30 billion lending program. But Mr. Reid immediately introduced an amendment that would restore the fund, and he continued to block any Republican amendments. Democratic aides said talks with the Republicans would continue, and they were still hopeful that some form of the measure would be approved.
President Obama called on the Senate to approve the bill in a statement in the Rose Garden on Monday. “We all have to continue our efforts to do everything in our power to spur growth and hiring,” he said. “And I hope the Senate acts this week on a package of tax cuts and expanded lending for small businesses, where most of America’s jobs are created.”
He also raised the issue in his weekly radio and Internet address on Saturday. The White House said Mr. Obama would continue pushing for the bill.
“Small businesses are the engine of private sector job creation, and the president will fight against any attempts by the partisan minority to block progress on legislation that helps our economic recovery,” a spokeswoman, Amy Brundage, said.
Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana and chairwoman of the small-business committee, who is a main author of the legislation, said the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, seemed intent on denying Mr. Obama and the Democrats a chance to pump up the economy ahead of the midterm elections.
“I think Senator McConnell knows and believes this bill could actually create millions of jobs and doesn’t want to give the president and Democrats credit for doing what we do, which is standing up for the middle class,” Ms. Landrieu said.
“If Democrats don’t stand for small business, I don’t know what we stand for,” she added. “I don’t want to go into this election standing for Wall Street and big business.”
The main point of disagreement is the centerpiece of the legislation: a proposed $30 billion lending program that would make credit available to small businesses through local banks. Some Republicans have decried the proposal as a mini “bailout” and said they would vote against it.
The most prominent potential Republican supporter of the bill, Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and the senior Republican on the small-business committee, said Wednesday that she firmly opposed the $30 billion program because it echoed the huge bailout of Wall Street, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which has become a political liability for lawmakers who supported it even though many economists say it was a success.
“It has all the quality and features of the TARP program,” Ms. Snowe said in an interview outside the Senate chamber. “I think we’ve been down that road.”
Now Olympia Snowe basically signaled, whether she was trying to help Democrats or not, what the tact will be from Republicans to try to turn folks against the bill. They are going to call it TARP II or some such to try to demonize the bill.
First off if they try it the Democrats can co opt the message. The primary problem folks had with TARP wasn't the size or how effective it was, because in the end most realize it worked. The problem for most folks was that TARP was a bailout of the assholes who got us in this mess while the average person on "Mainstreet" was neglected.
So hey, Democrats can call this TARP II, a bailout of mainstreet. A bailout of the little guy. A bailout for the folks who weren't doing anything wrong but still got killed by the recession.
Framing a bailout as one that targets mainstream is pretty much a winner. It has the advantage of both being true AND of putting Republicans in a defensive posture for not supporting a bailout of mainstreet.
But on another front this situation can be pushed for as long and as hard as Democrats want to. THE number one issue in the midterms will be the economy. So how do you build up momentum going into the elections? You be seen fighting your ass off to create jobs.
One of the main tactical problems I have with Harry Reid is he hates taking losses. If he doesn't have the votes for cloture on a particular bill then he simply will never file for cloture. But while this keeps his scorecard pretty it allows Republicans to avoid taking tough votes. And in fact it lets some of his corporate Democrats off the hook as well. But he is looking to get reelected this fall as well so maybe, just maybe self preservation will kick in.
Think about the reprecussions if he decides to stay in session until a jobs bill of some sort gets passed. If he says screw an August recess and the one issue the Democrats are working on every day is jobs jobs jobs. And every day conversely the Republicans are seen working against jobs jobs jobs. And the media will have no choice but to cover it because staying in session through a recess is not a "normal" thing. So every day you get wall to wall coverage of Democrats going on the floor to yell at Republicans to let them pass a jobs bill. And every day you see Republicans squirming trying to figure out how to combat the line that they don't want to bailout mainstream.
It would make for compelling TV.
I realize this is probably a pipe dream but if it happened it would undoubtedly be a game changer. One that you can't buy. One group is fighting for jobs, one is fighting against and there won't be any bs excuses this time about it not being paid for because it IS paid for.
Lets hope someone has the sense to pick up on this...