Tuesday, January 14, 2014

No, Congress, You Shouldn't 'Pay For' Extending Unemployment Insurance

Richard Eskow
Huffington Post

Despite record-high levels of unemployment -- especially long-term unemployment -- Republicans are refusing to permit any extension of unemployment insurance benefits unless it's "paid for" with money taken from other government programs. They've never demanded that of Republican administrations.

The Republican argument against extending these benefits is disingenuous, mean-spirited, and insincere. But instead of calling them out on it, loudly and repeatedly, many Democrats are likewise lamenting that "we can't find enough money," as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Thursday afternoon. Added Reid: "I have been waiting here for more than 24 hours for a reasonable proposal by my Republican friends to pay for this."

Even worse, Senate Democrats have proposed something Los Angeles Times business columnist Michael Hiltzik called a "flinthearted idea": to pay for the extension by cutting Social Security benefits for the disabled. That sort of thing used to be considered too ruthless even for Republicans. Now it's the "liberal" party's proposal.

The Democrats' offer perpetuates the misguided obsession with "pay-fors." It also stigmatizes the recipients of government benefits, another preferred Republican theme, in this case by exaggerating the impact of "double dipping" between government programs.

The simple truth is, Democrats are still being outmaneuvered by Republicans on economic policy. They're letting the GOP call the shots, rhetorically, even though Republicans lost two out of three seats of federal government (the Senate and White House). They even lost the total popular vote for the House of Representatives.

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