U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, joined forces Tuesday to announce a new bipartisan jobs bill they hope will end the political stalemate in Washington, D.C.
The Bipartisan Jobs Creation Act would cut taxes for businesses, authorize $35 billion in investments to the nation’s transportation infrastructure, strengthen federal job training programs and include regulatory reforms to stimulate businesses. It also would include an extension of the payroll tax cut through 2012.
The bill would be fully paid for by taxing millionaires and eliminating tax giveaways to the nation’s five biggest oil companies. The 2-percent surtax on taxpayers who earn at least $1 million a year would not apply to small-business owners and would sunset after 10 years.
The two senators announced their plan shortly after noon on Tuesday, calling it a common-sense solution that can and should earn broad support in Congress.
“Americans are frustrated that Washington hasn’t been able to set aside partisan bickering long enough to agree on a realistic path forward to spur job creation, lower taxes, and boost our economy,” Collins said in a statement. “I have been saying for many months that we need to work to reach a consensus on a plan that will help employers create and preserve jobs.”
Added McCaskill: “There are a lot of folks who think bipartisan compromise in Congress isn’t possible anymore, but I’m not willing to accept that. Here is a prime example of what can be accomplished when Congress stops playing politics, and starts working together — a viable plan to put more Americans back to work, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, and cut taxes for working Americans.”
Other recent jobs bills have failed.
Collins made headlines last week when she became the only Senate Republican to vote on a plan by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, that sought to expand payroll tax cuts and fund them through increased taxes on millionaires. The Senate also rejected a Republican-backed bill last week.
U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe voted against the Democratic plan, but it was not immediately clear Tuesday if she would support the Collins-McCaskill bill.
“I will be pleased to review the actual legislative language when it becomes available because, as ranking member of the Small Business Committee, my concern is not with taxing millionaires and billionaires, but to make certain we do not force punitive, onerous, and permanent taxes on our small businesses, which I know from past experiences has been the pitfall when crafting legislation on this issue,” Snowe said in a statement Tuesday. “Fiscal shenanigans such as permanent tax increases to pay for one-year temporary measures are precisely the problem that drove our nation into a $15 trillion debt crisis.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday he was uncomfortable with the surtax portion of the Collins-McCaskill bill, even if it included a carve-out provision for small businesses.
“Most Republicans are very reluctant to raise taxes on anyone during this economic crisis that we find ourselves in, but there may be others that have a different point of view,” he told reporters Tuesday afternoon.