Political News

Democrats end filibuster on jobs, Medicaid bill

Posted August 4, 2010

— Senate Democrats on Wednesday broke a Republican filibuster over a $26 billion measure to help states and local school boards with their severe budget problems.

The bill, which could to a floor vote later this week, would extend programs enacted in last year’s stimulus law to help preserve the jobs of tens of thousands of teachers and other public employees.

Wednesday’s vote to break the filibuster comes after Democratic leaders made final tweaks to the measure to win the votes of moderate Maine Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. Snowe and Collins provided the key votes last month to pass a six-month extension of jobless assistance for the long-term unemployed.

A vote scheduled for Monday was postponed after an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office showed the measure would add to the deficit. Snowe and Collins also had been concerned about cuts to Navy shipbuilding accounts since the Bath Iron Works is so essential to their state’s economy. Majority leader Harry Reid got rid of the proposed cuts Monday night.

The measure is scaled back from versions that stalled earlier this summer as part of a larger tax-and-spend measure extending jobless benefits and a variety of expired tax breaks.

The first piece is $16 billion to help states with their Medicaid budgets in the first six months of next year. The federal government has been picking up a larger percentage of state Medicaid costs, but that program runs out the end of this year.

The legislation, which also must pass the House if the Senate approves it, is less generous than the help provided under the stimulus law but is still desperately sought by governors, who have already made big budget cuts as tax revenues have plummeted in the recession – and warn of even worse cuts if the federal help is not continued.

“We’ve made bitter choices,” said Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat. “In the last three years Pennsylvania has raised more than a billion dollars in new revenue and we’ve cut spending by over $3.5 billion. It’s not like we haven’t done anything, and we’re coming to Washington and saying, ‘Bail us out.’”

North Carolina was counting on about $500 million in Medicaid money to fill holes in its budget, and lawmakers had to make contingency cuts before passing the 2010-11 budget in June in case Congress didn't approve the money.

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said Wednesday that North Carolina would receive about $343 million under the scaled-back bill.

The legislation also contains $10 billion to help school boards hit with similar budget woes avoid teacher layoffs this fall.

"The funding is expected to keep over 140,000 educators across the country from losing their jobs," Hagan said. "North Carolina would receive close to $300 million, which from some of the numbers I'm looking at, would save probably 4,500 education jobs in North Carolina."

The spending is accompanied by tax increases and spending cuts to avoid increasing the budget deficit. The bill eliminates in March 2014 an expanded food stamp benefit enacted last year, and limits the ability of some U.S.-based multinational companies to use foreign tax credits to reduce their U.S. taxes.

Both provisions are heavily backed by unions for teachers and public employees, key allies of the Democratic Party. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is running ads Wednesday in four Maine newspapers urging Collins and Snowe to vote to break the filibuster.

Obama requested an extension of additional aid for the Medicaid program in his budget and has belatedly rallied behind the money for teachers as well.


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  • mep Aug 5, 2010

    Don't be fooled, this is NOT a jobs bill, it is just another govt bailout for govt employees. (Federal and State)
    And blackdog, the Bible said helping the sick and injured was a personal responsibility, not the job of our govt. The good Samaritan did not go back to town, grab everyone's credit cards, then max them out to care for the injured man. Turning over responsibility to the govt to meet the needs of the poor is WRONG.

  • blackdog Aug 5, 2010

    As difficult as it is to comprehend, and accept, there actually ARE republicans out here, who believe education is a priority. Some of us even believe in helping the sick or injured. It is something we learned in Sunday School as children. I guess, the Christian Socialists got to us.

  • jlhpcarew Aug 5, 2010

    Again the Dems protect their own. Union jobs and welfare looters - their primary voter block. Lets just keep beating down US companies so that they all move to other countries. US companies already pay the highest corporate taxes of any other developed country and now they will have to pay more - say goodbye to more private sector jobs. Governemnt is killing the private sector job market. Why should governemnt jobs be protected and the private sector left to scrape by? Government employees don't PRODUCE anything. Furthermore, tell me why schools have multiple Principals, VPs and administrative staff galore? The ones that actually do the hard work - TEACHERS - are the ones that get laid off? Hope our kids can live off of 30% of their income after taxes have to go up because of all this spending.

  • gunny462 Aug 5, 2010

    "Trying to get something accomplished to help America is a lot better than obstruct, obstruct, obstruct while we're not in power.Plenty Coup"

    Ooh please, are you actually saying your a republican? LOL Also, this bill won't help any teacher's at all.

  • HanginTough Aug 5, 2010

    I am so sick of people who get medicaid...every illegal in greene county and every no good lazy bum sitting on a porch while I drive to and from work...i say cut everyones benefits and let everyone have to reapply first with a drug test and second with a VALID SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER and a HOME VISIT! If you lost your job and actually need medicaid to work for them as it was intended NOT for lazy moochers and illegals to get taken care of while the rest of us work and pay taxes...

  • Plenty Coups Aug 4, 2010

    whatusay-"Plenty Coups...so, you believe 48 dems and 2 republicans make your life better...I think not."

    Keeping jobs for teachers definitely makes my life better as well as my kids. By the way, it was 59 Democrats and 2 Republicans. Trying to get something accomplished to help America is a lot better than obstruct, obstruct, obstruct while we're not in power.

  • whatusay Aug 4, 2010

    Plenty Coups...so, you believe 48 dems and 2 republicans make your life better...I think not.

  • Worland Aug 4, 2010

    Just wait. The Dems know they only have a few months left in control. They are going to push as much crazy spending and socialist legislation they can. Don't be surprised Pelosi and Reid stay until the last minute throwing away billions on ant research and giving cocaine to monkey's.

  • Just the facts mam Aug 4, 2010

    Throw the bums out!!!

  • iworkandpaytaxes Aug 4, 2010

    And just where is the federal government getting this $26 billion???
    August 4, 2010 1:05 p.m.
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    This "thing" is here everyday saying something braindead. It doesnt read. Thats the problem. If we borrowed it from China the GOP would cheer loud. A very unique bunch.