Senate employs political theater as unemployment remains at 9.1%

Last week Republicans and Democrats fought over who would get to vote on a bill that wouldn’t matter.

For their part, Republicans wanted a vote on Obama’s original jobs bill because was certain to fail. It would fail because Democrats would not vote for it, which would be particularly embarrassing for Obama.

Democrats changed the rules of the Senate in order to not allow that vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) is scheduled to bring up for vote a modified version of the bill that includes a 5.6 percent tax increase on Americans who earn over $1 million that would take effect in 2013. This bill is unlikely to pass the Senate, but even if it does it won’t stand a chance in the House. The intention of this bill is not to create new legislation, but rather to embarrass Republicans who have promised not to vote to increase taxes on the wealthy.

What does all this political maneuvering mean? It means, once again, that our legislators are less interested in doing something to improve the country than they are in getting re-elected. It means that, as the Labor Department announced last week there were not enough jobs created to match population growth, our Congress still has yet to act on behalf of those 9.1 percent that are unemployed. Perhaps they are going for entertainment value so that those who don’t have a job have something to watch on TV?

This show comes after a potential government shutdown earlier this year that was also the result of political theater. The crisis over the debate ceiling was also political maneuvering. Each side wanted their votes to go on record for one thing or another before they were willing to pass “compromise legislation.” That’s the reason everything came down to the last minute.

So this time, Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) have commenced this latest round of political maneuvering, and will continue to do so for a while, until they finally reach the point, if ever, that they sit down to put together a bill that might actually have hope of passing both houses. That scenario is unlikely until after 2012.

That bill might include tax reform, spending cuts or other initiatives that both parties can agree on. There is a misconception that there are no such initiatives. That is simply untrue.

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Take a look at what the super committee proposes next month to see what those initiatives look like.

But for now, look at the similarities between what Congress is “accomplishing” and what the Occupy Wall Street movement is “accomplishing.” They are both loud and they are both active. They are both getting media coverage. But neither group is actually getting anything done.

Last week Obama talked about the do-nothing Congress.

“I would love nothing more than to see Congress act so aggressively that I can’t campaign against them as a do-nothing Congress,” said the president.

He needn’t worry however; he will definitely be able to campaign against a do-nothing Congress. And so will the Republican nominee.