WASHINGTON — The Senate jobs-creation package that was unveiled Thursday and hailed by President Obama may do more to help politicians who want to be seen trying to help the economy than it does to shrink the nation's unemployment rate.
"This is intended to show government is doing something, but it's hard for me to believe (that) a lot of this stuff is going to have a big impact on job creation," said Robert Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition, a fiscal watchdog group.
The measure also faces rough political terrain. Prodded by some Senate Democrats' concerns, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada plans to hold votes on only a small part of the package by month's end. Lawmakers in the House of Representatives passed a more extensive package in December.
Reid pared down the original $85 billion blueprint that was unveiled Thursday by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and the panel's top Republican, Charles Grassley of Iowa, because of Democratic concerns that it includes items that aren't directly related to job creation but are eagerly sought by business and physicians' groups.
The plan has four major job-creating components:
* Taxpayers would be allowed to write off up to $250,000 of certain capital expenditures this year, instead of depreciating those costs over time.
* Employers who hired workers who have been unemployed for at least 60 days this year wouldn't have to pay Social Security taxes, or 6.2 percent of wages up to $106,800, on those new workers for a year. Employers also could get an extra $1,000 tax credit for every new worker they retain for a year.
* Spending on highway and transit projects would be accelerated by $19.5 billion this year.
* State and local governments would be able to issue "Build America Bonds," which get federal aid. The program had been set to expire soon but would be extended at a cost of $2 billion over 10 years.
Will the Senate effort create jobs? Experts say it would help some, but isn't a magic bullet.
"You can't force companies to create jobs if they don't need them," said John Challenger, the president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a group that specializes in work force issues.