Political Animal


August 10, 2011 11:25 AM McCaskill opposes more jobless aid

By Steve Benen

As much heat as President Obama faces from the left — some of it deserved, some of it not — I sometimes think congressional Democrats get let off too easy. It’d be easier for the White House to do the right thing were it not for congressional Dems who think they’d be better off doing the wrong thing.

President Barack Obama is for extending unemployment but it may run out if Congress does not act soon to continue long-term unemployment assistance.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill told News 4 that she does not support extending any unemployment benefits any further. […]

Senator McCaskill also told News 4 that she supports payroll tax cuts because “that helps our consuming economy.”

Um, senator? Extended unemployment benefits also help “our consuming economy.”

This really isn’t that complicated. Paul Krugman had a column a while back that someone might want to send along to McCaskill.

When the economy is booming, and lack of sufficient willing workers is limiting growth, generous unemployment benefits may keep employment lower than it would have been otherwise. But as you may have noticed, right now the economy isn’t booming — again, there are five unemployed workers for every job opening. Cutting off benefits to the unemployed will make them even more desperate for work — but they can’t take jobs that aren’t there.

Wait: there’s more. One main reason there aren’t enough jobs right now is weak consumer demand. Helping the unemployed, by putting money in the pockets of people who badly need it, helps support consumer spending. That’s why the Congressional Budget Office rates aid to the unemployed as a highly cost-effective form of economic stimulus. And unlike, say, large infrastructure projects, aid to the unemployed creates jobs quickly — while allowing that aid to lapse, which is what is happening right now, is a recipe for even weaker job growth, not in the distant future but over the next few months.

Krugman wrote that a year ago, and fortunately, benefits were extended a few months later. With Republican opposition, this will be tougher this year — and with opposition from Democrats like McCaskill, the jobless and the economy are in even bigger trouble.

The basic concept here is quite simple: unemployment benefits are good for the economy. People who receive the aid aren’t sticking it in some money-market fund; they’re spending it and doing so immediately because it’s their main source of income. This injects demand and capital into the economy quickly, helping the beneficiaries and the rest of us.

I realize McCaskill is worried about re-election in a “red” state, but her position on this is just ridiculous.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • c u n d gulag on August 10, 2011 11:34 AM:

    I keep telling people that Obama ain't the problem.

    We need more and better Democrats.

    Senator McCaskill, what good do you do the Democrats when you go against the people who should be the backbone of the Democratic Party?

    And then these Democratic politicians wonder why they don't have a lot of support from Main Street?

    It's because you spend too much time and money on Wall Street, assholes.

    Primary HER!

  • J. Trollop Hamsher Emo on August 10, 2011 11:40 AM:

    She is more worried about her own job, it's the same all across the country. See? She really is "in touch" with Americans!

    Captcha: chotem protection

    (I need that!)

  • Live Free or Die on August 10, 2011 11:42 AM:

    It is a strange dynamic. When Dems control the Senate, one or two blue dogs ending up supporting the Republican filibuster, but no moderate GOP voting to end the filibuster. When, the GOP controls the Senate, there are always one or two Dems that vote with the GOP to end the filibuster, but no moderate GOP to vote with the Dems to support the filibuster. This is how the GOP gets what it wants.

  • CDW on August 10, 2011 11:51 AM:

    Have to agree with you on this, Steve. McCaskill, Nelson, Baucus, that guy from ND. And Baucus made the superdupercommittee (SDC), which means the cons will get everything they want. But Obama is one of them - a neoliberal, a/k/a moderate Republican, a more intelligent one than McCaskill, maybe, but one of them. In fact, I bet Obama pushed for Baucus to be on the SDC.

  • Anonymous on August 10, 2011 11:51 AM:

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    What I did after reading this article is immediately look up what my cable's competitors were offering. I then called my cable company and asked to drop all my services. I told them that their competitors were offering the same deal for almost the same thing. They ask me if they could match it, would I stay a customer? I said yes. They could not offer me the same deal, but they did reduce my rates for 6 months saving me almost $400. If they refuse to drop your rates, say never mind, I will keep the service.

  • Live Free or Die on August 10, 2011 11:53 AM:

    Anonymous =Live free or die

  • kindness on August 10, 2011 11:56 AM:

    McCaskill....that's the new euphamism for Blanche Lincoln, isn't it? It'll work as well for her as it did for Blanche.

    If you run as a Republican, you will lose to the actual Republican. If you run as a Democrat, you damned better be willing to speak up for the values of the Democratic Party.

  • Gregory on August 10, 2011 11:58 AM:

    I realize McCaskill is worried about re-election in a “red” state

    Yeah, but it's still utterly stupid, on a tactical and strategic level, for McCaskill and her fellow Democrats to keep conceding the rhetorical ground to the Republicans this way.

    She *should* be usuing the Republicans' intransigence on unemployment as a club to shift voters away from the Republican column and into hers. That's how one gets elected, for crying out loud. How many elections do Democrats have to lose before they figure out that voters aren't especially compelled by me-too, Republcian-lite Democrats?

  • Live Free or Die on August 10, 2011 12:03 PM:

    For whatever reason Democrats are unable to explain anything to the public, therefore adopt GOP narratives. If I was her, I would explain my support this way. 1) Unemployment is extremely high. UB are the only thing keeping many middle class families from sleeping underneath bridges, and 2) What steve said about them spending the $$ right away providing an economic boost.

  • Goldilocks on August 10, 2011 12:09 PM:

    How many times does a failed experiment need to be repeated before blatantly simple logic is accepted?

    And that goes both for macroeconomic reality and DINOs.

  • Ron Byers on August 10, 2011 12:13 PM:

    This is the kind of clap that has me down on the "Democratic Party" in Missouri and really down on Claire (DINO) McCaskill.

  • DAY on August 10, 2011 12:14 PM:

    Silly politicians! It is only unemployment and food stamps that is keeping another "Bonus Army" from marching on Washington.

    I'm opening a store this Halloween, selling nothing but rubber politician's masks.
    It will be called "Heads on Pikes R Us. . .

  • stormskies on August 10, 2011 12:19 PM:

    And exactly what are people like her proposing to do about the facts that Corporate America has created a situation where those that are unemployed get fucked over even more because so many that are hiring are only hiring those that ARE ALREADY EMPLOYED ? AND NOT HIRING THOSE THAT ARE NOT ? And what about those that are hiring will not hire anyone who has bad credit ? What about the fact that the Corporations have purposefully created and sustained an unemployment rate of around 9 to 10 percent in order to create competition for the jobs that do exist, and then hiring at the lowest possible wage because of ? And then firing those that have worked for a number of years only to be fired for someone who is younger, and will work for a lot less ?

    Our fascist country has no purposefully created a permanent underclass of people so as to benefit their own bottom line for profit. Soon there will be a strategy to remove the minimum wage, and to eliminate child labor laws for this end.

  • stormskies on August 10, 2011 12:28 PM:

    and here you have it ... says it all

    Nebraska AG Bruning Compares Welfare Recipients To Scavenging Raccoons

    By Heather

    From TPM -- Nebraska AG Jon Bruning Compares Welfare Recipients To Scavenging Raccoons:

    Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, a frontrunner to win the GOP nomination against Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), compared poor people to scavenging racoons in a speech this week. [...]

    The incident recalls similar language from South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer (R), who apologized in January 2010 for saying in a speech on America's "culture of dependency" that he learned "as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed."

    Pretty astounding from someone, as one of the commenters at TPM pointed out, who comes from a state where over 70% of their farmers received subsidies in 2009. Somehow I doubt Jon Bruning has ever compared any of them to racoons though.

    Some choices for Nebraska voters. This guy or ConservaDem Ben Nelson.

    Full transcript of his not so subtle racist remarks below the fold.

    Bruning: Well I'm up, this week on Tuesday night or on Monday night I'm in Broken Bow. And the road superintendent, he says we're trying to build a road in Sargent Nebraska. And they've got all this equipment out there in Sargent, sitting on the side of the road and it's not doing anything. And what's going on? Well somebody found a Burying Beetle. A little bitty beetle and they stop the whole project. One Burying Beetle. And so the biologist has to go out there and he sets this traps and you've seen these buckets right? They put a rat carcass in the bottom and the beetles crawl up and they fall into the bottom of it. And they put all these buckets up and down the side of the road and they capture all the Burying Beetles. The biologist goes out in the morning, grabs the beetles and they take them 2 miles down and they gently let the beetles out. So that the beetles will survive. Some farmer he's got a little more sense than the biologist or EPA or whoever it is. And the farmer walks out there with his video camera one night because the raccoons figure out the beetles are in the bucket. And it's like grapes in a jar. The raccoons, they're not stupid, they're going to do the easy way if we make it easy for them, just like welfare recipients all across America. If we don't incentive to work they're going to take the easy way out.

  • Daryl McCullough on August 10, 2011 1:08 PM:

    I don't know why these Democratic Senators in red states think that they can be re-elected by agreeing with Republicans on all the key issues. If your constituents want Republican policies, they'll vote Republican.

    I know that there was a long period of time in which conservative Democrats held office in Republican-leaning states, but I don't think that's going to work any longer.

  • Chris on August 10, 2011 1:24 PM:

    Really? Would the people of Missouri elect a Republican because their current Senator voted to extend unemployment benefits? Can that be right?

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I continue to believe that the best long-run electoral strategy for Democrats is to highlight and explain (I daresay, educate) their differences with Republicans--not blur them.

    To their credit, Republicans make their differences clear to the their base, and as a result, they have electoral victories that defy the opinion polls because they keep their base energized and anxious to show up on election day.

    Dems, on the other hand, continue to kick their base in the proverbial teeth. I'll always be there on election day, but not everybody is like me. Rather than maintaining, energizing, and growing their base, Dems almost seem to want to shrink it. It's truly bizarre.

  • Alli on August 10, 2011 3:19 PM:

    Steve you can compliment or defend Obama w/o the disclaimers - OK? Seriously, stop it.

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