Adios to A Jobs Bill Only a Politican Could Love

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
This was too much, even for Harry Reid.

The Senate Majority Leader this afternoon scrapped a "jobs" proposal that Charles Grassley and Max Baucus had proposed only hours earlier. (The Hill reports that Reid intends to narrow the bill's focus in a rewrite.)

Probably the smart move. Baucus and Grassley earlier in the day unveiled a "jobs bill" that would have rewarded employers in the form of modest payroll tax exemptions as well as income tax credits for new hires.(It was entirely circumstance but Grassley and Baucus announced their draft $85 billion bill on the same day that another poll showed voters strongly in favor of the president's slightly more generous package of tax cuts for small business and government spending to boost employment.) The White House's official reaction was welcoming - bringing on early signs of agita with some on the left. But you had to wonder whether the president's advisors were willing to trust Baucus and Grassley again.

That's because this duo couldn't sell health care, even in its most watered-down incarnation. Would they have had any easier of a time selling this one? Few experts believed the proposal would have done much to put many people back to work. Take Bill Rys, the tax counsel for the National Federation of Independent Business.

He told the Associated Press that while "there's certainly nothing wrong with giving a tax break to a business that's hired a new worker, especially in these tough terms of being an incentive to hire a lot of workers, we're skeptical." That was a kind putdown. Hugh Hewitt, who is far to Grassley's right, dismissed the announcement as an "an absurd bit of political theater". Hewitt went slightly overboard as the bill wasn't a total bust. It turns out the 361-page proposal would have helped Grassley's Iowa constituents quite nicely with a provision for extending biodiesel and renewable diesel credits (See Section 502.) The giveaway got inserted after the Senate allowed a $1-per-gallon tax credit to expire last year and well, when it comes to certain kinds of welfare programs, the farm states take a back seat to nobody (For the record, the National Biodiesel Board claims that "production has pretty much dropped to zero since the tax credit expired.")

Folks who live in places like New York and California might have asked why they're subsidizing programs that can't support themselves, let alone inquire why Uncle Sam should be in the business of picking winners and losers.

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    Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.