Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

June 25, 2010

SENATE REPUBLICANS KILL JOBS BILL.... For casual news consumers hoping to know what happened with the Senate's tax-extenders/jobs bill yesterday afternoon, perusing the headlines won't necessarily help.

The NYT's headline read, "Congress Fails to Pass an Extension of Jobless Aid." That's true, but incomplete. The lead paragraph told readers, "Senate Democrats and Republicans traded bitter accusations about who was to blame for an eight-week impasse," which doesn't actually convey who was responsible.

The WaPo headline read, "Senate again rejects expanded spending package," which also only tells part of the story. Worse, the lead paragraph doesn't mention the party responsible for rejecting the bill at all.

The LAT gets it right: "Senate GOP blocks jobless aid extension."

Senate Republicans on Thursday once again blocked legislation to reinstate long-term unemployment benefits for people who have exhausted their aid, prolonging a stalemate that has left more than a million people without federal help.

With the Senate apparently paralyzed by partisan gridlock, the fate of the aid, as well as tax breaks for businesses and $16 billion in aid for cash-strapped states, remains unclear.... Republican lawmakers -- joined by Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska -- maintained a unified front to sustain a filibuster of the $110-billion bill. The vote was 57 to 41; the majority was three short of the 60 needed to cut off debate and bring the bill to a final vote. [...]

"If there were ever evidence that this is the party of no, this is it," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who added that several governors would be arriving in Washington next week to make the case for the bill to help states, businesses and those who have been out of work more than six months. [...]

It was the third time in two weeks that Democrats failed to circumvent unified GOP opposition, despite making a series of changes to accommodate complaints about deficit spending.

Here's the roll call. Note that Lieberman rejoined the majority; Nelson joined a unanimous Republican caucus; and Sens. Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Murkowski (R-Alaska) did not vote, and could not have shifted the outcome.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who helped add $5 trillion to the national debt during the Bush/Cheney years, said Republicans had to kill the economic legislation because the extended unemployment benefits, at a cost of about $30 billion, were deficit financed -- despite the fact that extended unemployment benefits are routinely deficit financed.

There's no real doubt, or even debate, about the consequences of failure here -- millions of jobless Americans will lose already-meager benefits, which will mean less spending and a weaker economy. Hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost. Businesses that were counting on tax breaks won't get them.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement late yesterday, noting, "By blocking an up or down vote on this legislation, Republicans in the Senate obstructed a common-sense package that would save jobs, extend tax cuts for businesses and provide relief for American families who have suffered through the worst economic downfall since the Great Depression, even after Democrats offered multiple compromises to gain Republican support for the bill."

As for the next step, the bill, for now, is dead. If voters in Maine -- a state that will be particularly hard hit by Republicans' decision -- start making some phone calls to their senators, the bill may be brought back.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

Bookmark and Share

If the country is a smoking ruin, hungry and homeless, Republicans will not care as long as they feel like they've won.
Two quotes come to mind:
1. Cagney, "I'm on top of the world, Ma!"
2. Dante's Satan, "I'd rather rule in Hell, than serve in Heaven."

What do we do about a party that only cares about that party's winning a slim majority and holding power, rather than doing anything for the greater good of the people they're supposed to serve?

Posted by: c u n d gulag on June 25, 2010 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot to add this:
Nelson and Lieberman, GO CHENEY YOURSELVES!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on June 25, 2010 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans are proud of killing unemployment extension, so the headlines may as well reflect that. Republicans believe that killing unemployment benefits will make Americans work low wage jobs. Of course, they won't be able to pay their bills.

To Republicans, the poor are nothing more than a special interest group that votes overwhelmingly for Democrats and deserves to be kicked.

Posted by: bakho on June 25, 2010 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

The senate republicans represent what 30-35% of the public. The senate is the worlds most dysfunctional democratic body.

Posted by: cheflovesbeer on June 25, 2010 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

The people that are working could care less about the ones that are not.The Republicans, tea baggers, and hate radio messages are resonating well with the ignorant. The Republicans don't see any politacal loss for themselves in destroying the economy either.

Posted by: edr on June 25, 2010 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

RepuGs are such Party animals. They just love to throw "Block" Parties.

Posted by: berttheclock on June 25, 2010 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

@ c u n d gulag: Milton (P.L. 1.263), not Dante.

Posted by: somethingblue on June 25, 2010 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

The republicans are hoping for a double dip recession or worse, so they can blame the democrats for failing to fix the economy. They will do everything in their power, including killing this jobs bill, to prevent any sort of economic recovery, simply to regain power and rig the system in favor of the rich. The middle class, working class, and the poor are of no consequence to them.

Yet, and this is mind boggling, it appears they are faring well in the polls. The fact that barely 2 years after their colossal failure at governance, the electorate is even considering voting republican does not bode well for the future of this country.

Posted by: citizen_pain on June 25, 2010 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

Fat and Complacent trumps Poor and Downtrodden.

-Always will, until the Great Unwashed assemble, and head for Washington, pitchforks at the ready.

Posted by: DAY on June 25, 2010 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

The Hill headlined their report on this with "Senate Dems fail to advance tax extenders bill for the third time"

That headline should, more correctly, have read:
"Senate GOP Again Blocks Extension of Jobless Aid to Millions of Americans"

I also find it interesting that they did not include any comments by Representative Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) who on Wednesday held a conference call with reporters on the possible reasons for such Republican Intransigence:

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), whose state has the second-highest unemployment rate in the country, just held a conference call with reporters, in which she expressed her belief that Republicans have cynically joined together to stop the jobs bill, also known as the tax extenders package or H.R. 4213, to keep the unemployment situation bad, or possibly make it worse, for their own electoral gains in the fall.

Here is a flash transcript of some of her remarks:

On Republican obstruction:

It’s an extremely maddening and concerning time right now, and frankly we need your help. We’re in a situation where, after spending at least eight weeks on the floor trying to pass this jobs bill, which focuses on creating jobs as well as helping people … not one Republican is willing to help us stop this Republican filibuster.

We’ve spent a tremendous amount of time and discussions to get just one person to join us. And we don’t have that. So, we will be voting again today to stop the filibuster and we have every anticipation that we won’t have the votes.

It is very clear that the Republicans in the Senate want this economy to fail. They see that things are beginning to turn around. You know the numbers. When this president took office, we were losing 750,000 jobs a month. … Now we are gaining jobs. … Unfortunately, and cynically [on their part], in cynical political terms, it doesn’t serve them in terms of their elections if things are beginning to turn around.

I believe when you look at this bill, which is all paid for — we raised revenues to pay for it — the one piece that is technically not paid for [is the federal unemployment benefit extensions and] that is done in a way that we have always done it, … [those are] always categorized as an emergency. And, frankly, if 15 million people without jobs is not an emergency, I don’t know what is.

On who Republicans are helping:

When you look as well underneath they are protecting wealthy investors, corporations sending jobs overseas and big oil companies — because we have included provisions to close tax loopholes in each of those areas.

Republicans are standing with them at a time when we desperately need to keep this economic recovery going and we desperately need to help people who are hurt. In Michigan, it’s estimated that by the end of this month we’re going to have 87,400 who are going to lose help, temporary help, in their unemployment benefits, by the end of this month. That’s literally the difference between somebody keeping a roof over their head, food on the table and a little gas in the car to go look for work.

Republican intransigence:

They’re willing to take down the people of this country with them. Republicans are out of work too. There are Republicans’ and Democrats’ businesses that need the access to capital and [other provisions] in this bill.

This is an extremely bad sign, because, based on the inability to get at least one Republican — in the past, we’ve had the ability to work, certainly, with members of the Republican caucus and get people of good will, willing to negotiate. The fact that’s not happening now and everything seems to be turned over to [Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)], it appears that everybody in the Republican caucus has gone purely into election mode [before] the fall.

If they can stop the recovery from occurring, if they can create as much pain as possible, people will be angry and will not vote at all or will vote against those in the majority. This is a very cynical political strategy and I sure hope it doesn’t work...


Posted by: MrsD on June 25, 2010 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

something blue,
Thanks, don't know how I f'd that one up. Maybe it's because I want to block any references to 'Milton' Friedman out of my memory banks.

Still, even though it's been years since I read either Milton or Dante, a simple google search could have fixed that.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on June 25, 2010 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

Lieberman's vote with the Dems on this bill comes as a pleasant surprise, albeit not enough to improve my opinion of him.

Posted by: N.Wells on June 25, 2010 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

cund gulag, I don't think you can blame Lieberman for this. I think he voted with the Democrats. This is entirely on Senator Nelson. Threaten to kill Nebraska farmer welfare and he will come around.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 25, 2010 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, Milton and for many in this land, sadly, it is becoming a paradise lost.

Posted by: berttheclock on June 25, 2010 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

"Threaten to kill Nebraska farmer welfare"

Or force NU back into the Big 12.

Posted by: berttheclock on June 25, 2010 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

The other misleading aspect of the coverage is that the opposition to the extension was characterized as concern over the budget deficit, without mentioning that all
but the unemployment insurance extension was paid for and even would have had a trivial marginal impact on the budget deficit.

More importantly, the coverage issed the bigger point:

That this was another example of a ruthless calculation by the Republicans that if they can block any measure that has hope of getting the economy moving (and unemployment insurance has the most potent stimulus impact of just about any type of government spending), they will discredit progressive economic policies by demonstrating that they don't work (despite significant evidence, e.g., Larry Bartels work, they do).

Since 2009 the Republicans have ruthlessly and destructively perfected two stratgeies that, I fear, will change American politics for the worse for decades to come: (1) all-out opposition to any and all potentially effective public polcy initiative even those (e.g., cap & trade) that they previously supported; (2) embracing candidates who take extreme positions to play to the base who then in the general election "pretend" to back off from those positions while avoiding accountability for earlier stances by refusing to take questions from reporters.

Both strategies are brutally cynical game theory, that, frankly, play the mainstream press, not to mention the vast slice of relatively uninformed public, for suckers.

Posted by: DBEvanston on June 25, 2010 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers,
First, my memory goes, then, I can't read what Steve plainly wrote about Lieberman joining 'the majority.'
It's just, 'majorities' usually used to mean you won, until Republicans decided to only follow one rule - the "F" word rule.
So, thanks for correcting me. And pardon my confusion...

Posted by: c u n d gulag on June 25, 2010 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

What is the deal with Mr. Ethanol? Why doesn't he just switch parties already? Seriously, all farm subsidies for Nebraska should be cut. Except you'd need 60 votes to get that through the Senate. D'oh!

Posted by: josef on June 25, 2010 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

My little conservative small town newspaper just used the story ripped from the AP, and that got it about right, along with a headline that read "GOP blocks extension"

Posted by: bigutah on June 25, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

The LAT gets it right

How are they going to walk that back? ;-)
If this catches on, it could start a revolution!

Posted by: Kevin (not the famous one) on June 25, 2010 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

I believe the appropriations for resolving the atrocious USDA discrimination toward black farmers was also in this bill...so that is dead too.

Posted by: sdw on June 25, 2010 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

MSNBC says GOBP an DEM'S cant not agree on unemployment bill.

The Dem's have a serious problem with getting a message out.

Posted by: Fed Up and Tired on June 25, 2010 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

The perky news readers on CNN this morning also reported the bill killing as "Democrats and Republicans couldn't see eye to eye" without pointing out that Repuclicans were responsible.

That these corporate news outlets tend to report on critical issues without assigning responsibility or analyzing cause and effect is too much of a pattern to be mere coincidence.

Their idea of being "balanced" is not to piss off Republicans by pointing out their mendacity of behalf of the rich.

Posted by: Hotspur on June 25, 2010 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

WHY dioesn't Obama hold a Press Conference
How could DENOUNCE the Republican move
He could Appeal to Americans to support the Unemployment extension
He could mention that Rand Paul and Sharron Angle are calling the unemployed 'greedy' and 'lazy'

If we only had Leadership

Posted by: frisco, SF on June 25, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

MSNBC says GOBP an DEM'S cant not agree on unemployment bill.

The Dem's have a serious problem with getting a message out.

Posted by: Fed Up and Tired -----------------------------------------------------------

Gee, maybe if the Democrats had a LEADER who would speak up for them
Maybe if they had a LEADER who could hold a Press Conference (remember them?) and SUPPORT unemployment insurance

GEE, I wish Democrats had a LEADER !!

Posted by: Frisco, SF on June 25, 2010 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Someone really needs to explain, in a way that doesn't sound like whining, exactly WHY it is the Democrats with a big majority cannot get shit done. And it better be good.

Remember the Republicans got everything they wanted when they had control of the Congress. We can bitch all we want about the media not blaming the GOP. The media will never adopt Democratic frames, the way it has Republican ones, until the Dems get a hell of a lot better at getting their message out.

Posted by: kc on June 25, 2010 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

as an ohioian, i am totally disgusted that, even facing retirement, senator voinovich couldn't bring himself to help the state he supposedly represents...

Posted by: dj spellchecka on June 25, 2010 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

The senate is the worlds most dysfunctional democratic body.
Posted by: cheflovesbeer

As a friend from Texas explained to me, the USA is a republic not a democracy. So the correct answer is the US senate is not a democratic body. It was designed to block legislation that did not have overwhelming support across the various states, and it is fulfilling that purpose incredibly well.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on June 25, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

One little thing not noticed anywhere: The National Flood Insurance Program is funded through this bill...and therefore is now kaput. If you are trying to buy or sell a home on a coast or in a floodplain--you're screwed. Call your Repub Senator and thank the son-ova-b#%^h, like I did this morning.

Posted by: JohnMcC on June 25, 2010 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK



Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM

buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly