Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 18, 2010

40 SENATE HOOVERS.... It's an election year, and the economy remains the issue at the top of voters' priority list. It stands to reason that lawmakers would want to take modest steps to improve the economy and prevent job losses.

But reason has been deemed irrelevant in much of the Senate, where sacrificing workers and the unemployed over long-term deficit fears is somehow perceived as wise.

The Senate effectively rejected a slimmed-down package of jobless benefits and state aid late Thursday, rebuffing President Obama's call for urgent action to bolster the economic recovery. [...]

Democratic leaders, who had predicted victory less than 24 hours earlier, vowed not to give up on the measure, but acknowledged that they have no clear path to securing the one or two Republican votes needed to push it to final passage. Though the sprawling package contains a number of must-pass provisions, Republicans have been steadfast in their opposition, insisting that the full cost of the measure be covered by cutting existing government programs.

If the Senate had been allowed to vote on the measure, it would have passed. But Republicans kept up their scandalous habit of filibustering literally every proposal of any significance, leading to a 56 to 40 vote. (Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) voted with Republicans, who unanimously opposed the bill.) Because the Senate is ridiculous, 40 votes trumps 56.

Note that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) did not switch his vote for procedural reasons, which means that the economic aid package is, for now, dead.

In real-world terms, this means more than a million unemployed Americans will stop receiving assistance next week, and aid states are counting on to prevent massive layoffs won't arrive.

The Senate had a choice: worry about the deficit or worry about higher unemployment. For reasons that defy common sense, the Senate chose the former -- as if the deficit will improve when more Americans are out of work.

The Democratic majority really can't let this stand. As a policy matter, Republicans' neo-Hooverism will cause widespread suffering. As a political matter, it's Dems who'll be blamed when unemployment gets worse. (It's unpleasant to think about, but it may be time for a discussion about whether GOP lawmakers are trying to deliberately sabotage the economy to help their midterm election strategy.)

Ideally, the Democratic leadership would keep bringing this up, every day, shining a light on exactly what Republicans are doing here.

Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Reid are scheduled to meet today to discuss their next steps. Stay tuned.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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It's obvious to me that the Republicans are sabotaging the economy to help them in November.

For all of their God talk, they actually sound more like Satan: "I'd rather rule in Hell, than serve in Heaven!" If there's nothing left of the country, and Republicans are on top, they will feel that they won.

I still think to need to resurrect the jobs bill, but this time, label it an "Anti-Crime Bill." What do they think people who have run out of money, options, and pride, will do?
Bank robberies.
Home invasions.
Store stick-ups.
Car-jacking outside of ritzy shops.
Hell, if my kids were on the verge of starving, these might be things I'd be thinking of. Not for fun, but for survival.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on June 18, 2010 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

Of course it's an electoral strategy. Which is why the Democrats need to start running ads, NOW, about how Republicans are trying to sabotage economic recovery in the hopes that voters will reward them for creating the economic mess in the first place. An ad using Obama's "car in the ditch" metaphor would be great - except they need to embellish by reminding voters that after Republicans drove the car in the ditch and had the keys taken away from them, they've since sat in the back seat of the car bitching about how it's in the ditch, adding dead weight instead of getting out and pushing. And wrapping up with "and now they expect you to REWARD them for this?"

Of course, these are the Democrats we're talking about, so there won't be any ads of this type.

Posted by: Jennifer on June 18, 2010 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

Of course they are sabotaging the economy. Unfortunately, you are correct, this will help republicans electorally. When we get a republican president in 2012, unemployment will go to 25% or more.

Posted by: cheflovesbeeer on June 18, 2010 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

Never thought the demagoguery of John Thune would end. Yes, John, you did ever so much to stop the run up in deficits under Shrub, did you not? But, Nelson and Liebermann are beneath contempt.

Posted by: berttheclock on June 18, 2010 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

. . . it may be time for a discussion about whether GOP lawmakers are trying to deliberately sabotage the economy to help their midterm election strategy.

Gee, isn't it obvious that's what they're doing? Democrats can't play politics for shit, so it's only the wonks like those who read this site who understand that the story of the past 2 years has been GOP obstructionism. 98% of the population doesn't understand the GOP (or FIP as I like to call them) has successfully blocked Obama and the Wimpocrats from implementing much of their agenda. They only know (a) They're unemployed and/or struggling, and (b) Obama and the Democrats are in charge.

If Reid were any kind of leader, he would have been blasting Republicans as obstructionists from January 2009, so that by now everyone would know the FIP is getting in the way, and everyone would be preparing to get them OUT of the way in November.

But no, Obama and Reid decided that trying to play the bipartisan game was more important than actually getting anything done. They did this even though they know (or damn well should know) that for a Republican, 'bipartisanship' means 'we're doing this my way'.

I was getting ready to send money to Reid's FIP challenger this fall, just to get him out of the Senate and thus out of a leadership position, but then the FIP had to go and nominate possibly the worst Senate candidate in U.S. history to run against him. Not to be believed.

Posted by: David Bailey on June 18, 2010 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

So among other egregious efforts (e.g., killing financial reform), Republican Senators filibuster aid to the unemployed and trigger massive state layoffs while apologizing to British Petroleum for demanding the company assume part of the financial responsibility for their own mess. And the GOP is expected to gain Senate seats in 2010.

The ads write themselves. But as Jennifer says, there won't be any.

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on June 18, 2010 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

A question for the republicans: how much would we be able to save by eliminating every subsidy to every large business in the country ? Just wondering.

Posted by: rbe1 on June 18, 2010 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

Someday when everything is cool and temperate we can look back at the jugglers and the clowns and criticise their techniques .
Yes they say heaven is great , despite the lack of plumbing .
While we are forgetting about the lead paint in odd places , the crossover viruses from pig ranches , dead pets , odd seventy year old claims about estrogen like distribution from degrading plastics in the grand experiment of dropping untold mountains of plastic , i.e. , petroleum waste like children wiping their noses , just niggling irritations . Like the one with unvettable mysterious origins like the "Natural Disaster" of an unplugged Gulf of Mexico , wow huh it all seems like a dream now .
In remarkably few generations the direction of far seeing rich and powerful betters has changed the mud crawling with critters and weeds into beautiful slag mountains and clear clean vitriol pools of by products , mostly from the "free" energy from petroleum . Free !
That is the key , free ! What will be the cost ? Free !
Unless some unforseen uncontrollable force descends like Grendle biting and tearing , frightening the governors and their wives , painfully separating life from the joints and marrow of the victims . Like Cancer !
Our farseeing betters will gently guide their flocks into the panic and fear they pay for , to buy time for magic bullets generation . That crazy liberal talk of diversity , why not just include two of each , but just one liberal . He he he

Posted by: FRP on June 18, 2010 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

Instead of robbing banks, the unemployed millions should march on the Capitol, effectively shutting Washington down.

-Oh, wait: The Senate has already done that. . .

Posted by: DAY on June 18, 2010 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

The ReBPublican Party doesn't care about "the small people" very much.

Posted by: Neil B on June 18, 2010 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

Bring in sotto Martin Sheen like voice

"They want us to apologize to BP; They don't want to extend unemployment benefits; they don't want you to have health care; they ran up $5 trillion in national debet in 8 years; they got us into a war that should never have been fought; during their 8 years in power, no net job growth occurred in our country".

"Why vote for them?"

"Vote Democratic for a government for the people."

Paid for by the .......

Posted by: bigutah on June 18, 2010 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Can somebody explain to me why this couldn't have been passed through reconciliation? Or do we not want to irk the shameless Republican lie machine?

Posted by: Keeping Track on June 18, 2010 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Dear Keeping Track: Reconciliation can only be used if somehow, someway, the legislation can be shown to reduce the deficit, or is included in the original budget passed by the Senate.

Posted by: JMG on June 18, 2010 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

Baucus is a primary example of corporate Buy in for any legislation.

Posted by: MLJohnston on June 18, 2010 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

I'm starting to think maybe something like this has to happen in order for people to get REALLY pissed off and start taking to the streets.

Dems need to mount a massive ad campaign directly linking their pain to GOP obstructionism. They also need to make Joe Barton the spokesperson for the GOP's attitude towards the Gulf spill.

We're approaching a tipping point. Might as well get there sooner than later.

Posted by: bdop4 on June 18, 2010 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Adding Caligula's horse to the current membership of the United States Senate would raise the collective IQ at least 100 points.

Posted by: TCinLA on June 18, 2010 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Bbbut...I thought Holy Joe was with us on everything but the war. Apparently, Harry Reid meant the war on the Democrats not the Iraq war.

Posted by: warren terrah on June 18, 2010 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

As has been repeatedly noted, nothing of consequence ewill pass unless the Dems break the Senate filibuster.THAT takes 50 senators plus Biden. No stimulus jobs bill, no voter enthuasiasm in November. The Repubs will show the Dems how it is done as soon as they get 51 Senate votes.

Posted by: gdb on June 18, 2010 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK



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