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On March 26, House Speaker John Boehner effectively killed the Senate deal to renew unemployment insurance before it had even passed the upper chamber. “I told the president I would consider this, as long as it was paid for,” he said, adding that his demand had “not been met." Boehner was right: The Senate deal contained a budget gimmick, known as pension smoothing, as a spending offset. It wasn’t truly paid for.
Three and half months later, House Republicans are set to use that exact budget gimmick as a spending offset to an infrastructure bill—and Boehner’s not complaining this time around.
Pension smoothing increases government revenue now, but reduces it in the long term (past the 10-year budget window congressional deficit peacocks care about). And as an added bonus, it makes it more likely workers will face underfunded pensions. It's a bad idea! But Democrats are looking to get important things like unemployment insurance and highways funded now, and are willing to sign onto the long-term risk if that's what it takes to get Republican support, while Republicans don't object too strongly to revenue that corporations will get back in a few years and that mostly endangers workers. Well, sometimes Republicans don't object to that, when it's an issue they feel real political fear over. When it's just a few million unemployed Americans, pfft, screw them.
This is a great demonstration of how Republicans force priorities down the toilet. We need both a long-term funding solution for highway funding and an extension of emergency unemployment insurance for long-term unemployed people. We're not getting the latter at all, and the former will be funded only in the short term and only through budget games that leave the country worse off in the long run. And so they succeed at chipping away at the basic foundations of stability and decency and the country's economic health.