12/29/2013

Obama waits until the very last day to be upset about the extended unemployment benefits and Democrats plan on using this as a campaign issue

UPDATE: Senate Democrats will put up a vote on jobless benefits on Monday, but if this is really so important, you would think that they could find some money to pay for this spending.  It seems as if they really want it to be defeated.  From Fox News:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says his chamber will vote Monday on extending long-term jobless benefits and that he plans to outline his 2014 legislative agenda in the coming days.
The benefits were not included in a two-year budget deal Congress reached in December, cutting off unemployment checks for 1.3 million Americans out of work longer than six months.
Reid, D-Nevada, is optimistic that the bipartisan legislation in the Senate will get enough support from members of both parties to win passage in the Democrat-controlled chamber.
However, he offered no prediction on whether it will pass in the Republican-led House.
"I don't predict anything in the House," Reid told the Associated Press before describing the lower chamber as a "black hole of legislation."
President Obama has endorsed the proposal, but Republicans in the House have insisted that any renewal of the extended jobless benefits be offset. . . .
ORIGINAL POST: Obama signs the budget deal without the extended unemployment benefits.  Now on Saturday, with just hours to go before the extended benefits expire, he speaks out against the extended benefits ending.  Earlier Democrats waited until a budget agreement was basically reached before they raised the issue of extending benefits further.  As if to ensure that there wouldn't be an agreement, Democrats refused to agree to other cuts to pay for these benefits.  From Politico:
“This literally came out of nowhere yesterday, and it is totally disingenuous of them to put this in play at this point,” one Republican familiar with the talks said. “They know the impact this will have on our side of the aisle, so I can only read this as a deliberate attempt to blow up any deal.” . . .
Now of course, you have articles in The Hill newspaper about how Democrats are going to make a political issue of this cut in benefits.
Democrats are seizing on the expiration of federal unemployment benefits to batter the GOP ahead of the midterm elections.   They say Republicans are to blame for the failure of Congress to renew jobless aid for 1.3 million of the long-term unemployed and are making the point repeatedly in a coordinated messaging blitz over the holiday break. . . . 
President Obama has called for a three-month retroactive reauthorization of the program, and Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-Nev.) vowed to make it the first order of business when the Senate reconvenes in January. 
“I will ensure that extending unemployment insurance is the first thing we vote on after the holiday,” Reid said last week. A Senate vote could put Republicans in a tough spot. . . .
Here is my take on the issue of topic from three years ago.  The Democrats keep wanting to make the extension a campaign issue.  If this is so crucial, why can't the Democrats find any savings from other programs to fund it?


The extension of unemployment insurance benefits is expected to  pass the Senate today. Despite President Obama's attack on Republicans for delaying the bill, it could easily have passed a month ago if Democrats hadn't added so many other unrelated radical measures to it -- from higher taxes to changes in the Medicare reimbursement formula.  My piece from Fox News starts this way:
The bill President Obama has been hammering Republicans over in the last couple of days has been puzzling since he already knew that he had enough Republican votes to overcome any filibuster and pass the extended benefits. 
The problem, though, isn't that there is insufficient Republican support to pass it. The problem is that the bill will ultimately increase long term unemployment and it will reduce our GDP. 
Ironically, if some of Obama's attacks are correct, Republicans can only be accused of trying to help  Obama's presidency.  
Suppose, as the president said on Monday, that Republicans really believe "that emergency relief somehow discourages people from looking for a job."  If that were true, those Republicans who are opposing the added extension of benefits would believe that defeating it would lower the unemployment rate. . . .
Democrats think that they have this issue on their side.  From Real Clear Politics:
. . . The battle has become the starter’s pistol of the midterm election year, pitting Democrats’ belief that the benefits are necessary and help buoy a still-wobbly economy, against Republican arguments that growth and hiring would gain strength more quickly if Washington keeps its spigot turned off and leaves unemployment compensation to the states. 
Recent polling suggests Democrats have the stronger argument with the public across regions, genders and age groups. A majority of voters say they want Congress and the president to maintain the benefits, according to a survey of 811 registered voters conducted Dec. 18-22 by Hart Research Associates. The poll found that 55 percent of voters think the federal emergency program should continue, while 34 percent say benefits should cease. 
In urging an end to the federal program, in part because of a belief that it feeds dependency, many Republicans are playing with fire heading toward midterm political contests, the Hart pollsters said Dec. 26. . . .
The op-eds are out there pushing the Democrat line.  From Eugene Robinson:
It would be one thing if there were a logical reason to cut off unemployment benefits for those who have been out of work the longest. But no such rationale exists. On both economic and moral grounds, extending benefits for the long-term unemployed should have been an automatic bipartisan vote in both houses of Congress. 
It wasn't. Nothing is automatic and bipartisan anymore, not with today's radicalized GOP on the scene. In this case, a sensible and humane policy option is hostage to bruised Republican egos and the ideological myth of "makers" versus "takers." 
The result is a cruel blow to families that are already suffering. On Saturday, benefits were allowed to expire for 1.3 million people who have been unemployed more than six months. These are precisely the jobless who will suffer most from a cutoff, since they have been scraping by on unemployment checks for so long that their financial situations are already precarious, if not dire. 
Extending unemployment benefits is something that's normally done in a recession, and Republicans correctly point out that we are now in a recovery. But there was nothing normal about the Great Recession, and there is nothing normal about the Not-So-Great Recovery. 
We are emerging from the worst economic slump since the Depression, and growth has been unusually -- and painfully -- slow. Only in the past few months has the economy shown real signs of life. Job growth is improving but still sluggish, with unemployment hovering at 7 percent -- not counting the millions of Americans who have given up looking for work. . . .

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