There's nothing unreasonable with the package proposed this morning by the U.S. Conference of Mayors: Pass the federal transportation bill at current funding levels, extend jobless benefits, extend the payroll tax cut, and add a tax cut for employers on new hires (here's the proposal). These are all sensible steps that government should be doing to create some jobs, provide relief to those who do not have jobs, and improve the nation's roads. But in the toxic world of Capitol Hill, nothing is a sure thing. Even the transportation bill, which would mean extending $4.6 billion worth of funding for projects in California, has become a question mark. From the NYT:
The two chambers champion different versions of the bill. The Republican-led House wants a $230-billion, six-year version that includes a sizable cut to the current budget, while the Democrat-controlled Senate wants a more modest two-year bill that reduces less from current spending levels.
Actually, there seems a bit more willingness by both sides to cut a deal, perhaps because there are so many projects that impact individual states and districts. From The Hill:
The Republican chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said Tuesday he is open to a short-term extension of the bill. Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) has previously said he would only support a long-term Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) bill. The bill allows the federal gas tax to be collected and appropriates money from it to road projects in states. But with the current version of the measure set to expire Sept. 30, Mica said Tuesday he'd consider passing an eighth short-term extension.