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Will Unemployment Insurance Come Back to Haunt the GOP?

Democrats are doing a full-court PR blitz on Republicans' block of a three-month extension.

by
Bill Straub

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February 13, 2014 - 5:42 pm
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WASHINGTON – The marathon dance featuring Senate Democrats and Republicans over extending unemployment benefits for 1.7 million out-of-work Americans will likely continue unabated for a while as the two factions measure the potential political impact.

Democrats, unified in support of the three-month extension, are using the inability to get a measure passed to paint reluctant Republicans in an unbecoming light, with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, proclaiming Wednesday that GOP lawmakers “don’t care” about struggling workers.

Republicans, meanwhile, offer several rationales for their opposition, generally ranging from adding to the budget deficit to Reid’s move limiting the party’s ability to amend the extension bill.

“Unfortunately, Democrats did not work with us, wouldn’t negotiate with us on how to pay for it,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said on Meet the Press on Sunday. “We also have record numbers of people long-term unemployed. And the Democratic answer to that is, ‘Let’s add more to the 26 weeks of unemployment insurance to emergency benefits, and let’s do nothing to reform the program. Let’s do nothing to give people the skills they need to access the jobs that are out there.’”

What’s clear is Democrats to this point are winning the contest in the eyes of the judges – the American public. A recent Fox News poll shows that 69 percent of people think unemployment insurance should last at least a year – far longer than the current 26 weeks.

Another survey released in January, this from Quinnipiac University, showed that 58 percent of those questioned nationwide, all registered voters, expressed support for a three-month extension.

But the real impact might be most severe on a state-by-state basis. Republicans, who currently hold 45 of the upper chamber’s 100 seats, are given a good chance of taking control of the Senate after the November elections, given the number of Democratic retirements and vulnerable seats. It’s possible that the unemployment insurance debate could get in the way of those plans.

Take the case of Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who still has two years to serve before seeking re-election and opposes the extension, as a barometer. A survey released by Public Policy Polling – a Democratic firm – shows a majority of Illinois residents – 63 percent — in favor of reinstating jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed. Of those polled, 40 percent said Kirk’s vote makes them less likely to support him in the future while 31 percent think they would be more likely to support him.

And some candidates already are using the issue to nibble at the heels of GOP incumbents, indicating the issue might have legs. Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state challenging Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell – if he survives a primary confrontation – in the fall has attacked him for opposing the extension.

“It is shameful that after failing for nearly 30 years to offer a credible plan to put Kentucky back to work, Mitch McConnell has the audacity to laugh in the faces of more than 18,000 unemployed Kentuckians, including 1,200 coal miners in Pike County,” Grimes said in a statement. “The people of Kentucky deserve a Senator they can be proud of — not one who offensively looks down upon our people and is an embarrassment to the values we hold dear. We take care of our own in this state.”

Democrats have sought to pass unemployment insurance legislation five times already this year, failing at each attempt. The most recent effort came on Feb. 4, when Republican lawmakers once again blocked a three-month extension at a cost of $6.4 billion.

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All Comments   (12)
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Good grief. I'm sick of hearing about stupid Republican legislators who need to do a better job of explaining their positions, who let Dems hand them their heads on key issues, who are incapable of heading off Pr disasters like this one.

Well, it's not our reps, by and large, who are responsible for letting the demagogues win round after round. It's the voters, stupid, the stupid voters, the lofos, the apathetic, the just plain ignorant people who are aiding the Dems in driving a once great country into the ground because they don't know bupkis.

If we go down it won't be because of the "stupid party"; it'll be the fault of a citizenry that has forgotten or has never been taught that in freedom begins responsibilities, to paraphrase Fitzgerald. Solution? There isn't one. This isn't your father's USA, anymore, or ever again. God help us all.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment

This article captures the problem of conservative governance in a nutshell. Many people are for limited government, low taxes and individual liberty, until something has to be denied to somebody. Then the pols who want to hold the line are painted as hard-hearted Scrooges.

It would be wise to remember this exercise the next time some of our more agitated fellow conservatives want to label any Republican who ever voted for a tax increase or a benefit extension a "RINO".

Until we are able to re-establish the idea that liberty is compromised by a government which tries to be all things to all people, survival will require compromises we don't like to enable us to have electoral majorities that can do the things that are vitally necessary to keep this country from becoming like the pre-Thatcher U.K., with living standards reduced to some of the lowest in Europe.



31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Scary comments. Is anyone focusing on the actual issue? Extending unemployment payments three months after receiving them for two years. What is that? What does that do? How many long-term unemployed will find jobs in this three month window? Isn't a sure thing that the extension will have to be extended again and again?
This is pure Democrat nonsense much like the war on women and opposition to voter ID. The stupid Republicans fall into it again. All those polls quoted have nothing to do with extending unemployment payments for more than two years. They need to be clear that two years is more than enough for anyone at any time. Who deserves unemployment for more than two years? No one. No one. No one. Once you negotiate on these idiotic issues you are toast.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
The left doesn't give a rat's ass about any of their issues. They pick them strictly for the purpose of demonizing their opponents. There isn't anything unique about unemployment compensation. It's simply reason #1349 to pick one group's pockets to give it away to another group. It will never end.

The PROBLEM is the rino's refusal to confront these contrived issues and re-frame them so that people can understand the consequences (i.e., the risks and dangers) of doing what the radical left is lying about. Moreover, the rino's are unable / scared-to-death to present a positive vision of their own that describes to the country what must happen to reverse the catastrophic course that they and the radicals have put the country on.

So, like every other issue, the solution is to defeat the rinos.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
How many months of unemployment are enough? Is it true that some folks have been receiving unemployment for more than two years? I hear others complain that unemployment is not enough to live on but still insist on collecting it. Relocate to where the jobs are or do like many of us have done in the past and work several low paid jobs, sell at swap meets, do casual labor like snow shoveling. You will find your own opportunity. Quit whining and stop sucking on the government teat. It demeans you.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Like others here are alluding to, the Repubs could use this as an opportunity to address the root of our economic problems. Happily accept the unemployment extension to a full year (or even more) in a bill coupled with real economic reform to grow the economy - and thus, making the extended benefits offered unnecessary in the longer term. If an opened-up, true free market US economy is allowed to flourish, and the individuals get to keep more of what they earn through a more fair tax system, then the long-term effects of extended employments becomes a moot point. A flat tax or the Fair Tax on personal or business income, with few, if any, deductions, and less and fairer (not no) regulations will send the economy upwards, and negate any "bad" outcome from extended unemployment benefits.

Of course, this assumes that either mainstream party cares about anything other than winning and power.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Framing the lack of benefits extension in terms of budget constraints as opposed to integrating discussion about progressive policies that obstruct employment by burdening would-be job creators with the specter of mandates attached to new hires... the truth is out there for anyone who is actually serious about solving the problem- and the collective refusal to take up that line of discussion in communicating "to the people" indicates that few in government are serious about anything beyond exploiting the plight for political benefit. Only from an attitude of "depraved indifference"...
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Count on the Repubicans to make a slam dunk election in 2014 close by their utter tone deaf response to the people. Yes, they stepped into a potential big loser on this one. Many folks are fed up Obama's lies, and the lack of jobs, but punishing those who are hardest hit by the lousy job market is not a winning hand - and oh yeah, maybe extending UI for a year is the right thing to do in this market. Don't blame the folks for bad policies - it's quite common for very qualified folks to be out of work for longer that 26 weeks. For every dead beat these fat cats are trying to force back into the work force there's probably a dozen busting their ass trying to get their decent paying job back. Even working a couple of part time job doesn't come close to making up the difference. So don't tell me the folks are going to magically find jobs even at lower pay. It's a recipe for social unrest. Once again the party of stupid is getting outsmarted by the party of sleaze.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Republicans always paint themselves into a corner just when it seems as if they have been able to gain the upper hand. In the coming months, two issues will be played non-stop by Democrats. The increase in minimum wage and extension of unemployment benefits. Never mind that if one researches the genesis of the continuing recession, it began with Democrats giving everything away including the kitchen sink and when Republicans started to fight back and demand to know how the kitchen sink would be paid for, a willing media worked hand in hand with Democrats to demonize Republicans.

I have been unemployed through no fault of my own and due to extenuating circumstances, I had to depend on unemployment benefits for the allowable period of 29 weeks. This was years ago and at my age, no one would even consider hiring me. It took months before I landed a job paying about half of what I had been making. Most of the people on unemployment since 2008 are not drawing it because they want to, they don't have any choice and until Republicans understand that this is one of the issues that hits almost every home in America, they will continue to lose ground.

I am a conservative and have no faith in Obama or Democrats to effectively run a country except into the ground but on this issue, Republicans had better wake up and understand the problems their fellow Americans are facing. If anything, they should have agreed to extend the benefit period and place the blame for having to take such drastic steps on the doorsteps of Obama and Democrats.

But no, they had to adhere to a position they actually believe resonates with most Americans and it simply does not. The poll numbers indicate such and through personal experience with some long term unemployed, they need all of the help they can get whether they want to or not, survival is paramount for their families and the income does help.
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31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
"It is shameful that after failing for nearly 30 years to offer a credible plan to put Kentucky back to work, Mitch McConnell has the audacity to laugh in the faces of more than 18,000 unemployed Kentuckians, including 1,200 coal miners in Pike County,” Grimes said in a statement."

So its official, Democrats have absolutely no fear of sounding mean, uninformed and stupid. No one out there to call them on it. But at least he's bringing attention to that awful Republican war on coal.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
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