One of the more interesting reader questions Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) faced in the Senate majority leader’s live Q&A hosted on this site Wednesday connected Reid’s theme of the day — the need for job creation — with the economic recovery act. The question:
Is it true that there is a significant balance of unused stimulus money? If so, what are the barriers for investing in infrastructure restoration projects, extending UI benefits for the “99’rs” and small business loan programs?
Money in the Recovery Act was meant to get into the economy quickly to get the biggest bang for the buck. As the CBO just told us, the Recovery Act in the first quarter of 2011 increased “the number of people employed by between 1.2 million and 3.3 million, and increased the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by 1.6 million to 4.6 million compared with what would have occurred otherwise.”
Reid also criticized congressional Republicans several times in the Q&A for “putting politics ahead of creating jobs” and blocking job bills.
For example, here’s his description of the 51-49 Senate vote Tuesday that blocked a bill which would have renewed the Economic Development Administration for five more years.
Yesterday, Republicans blocked a jobs bill that has been creating jobs in distressed communities in a cost-effective manner since 1965. They blocked it even though this bill has previously passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. Instead of focusing on jobs, Republicans were more interested in loading up the bill with irrelevant amendments dealing with everything from light bulbs to the lesser prairie chicken to a sand dune lizard -- everything except jobs. This level of obstruction is extremely disappointing.
To read the entire chat transcript, click here.