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This week, Democrats find themselves trying for the third time to pass a 30 day extension to unemployment benefits.  And each time they try to pass an extension, Republicans find someone like Tom Coburn, Jon Kyl, or Jim Bunning to shutdown the Senate to delay its passage.

Democrats have responded to past filibusters of unemployment extensions by shutting down all other business in order to overcome the procedural hurdles set by Republicans. Eventually, a few moderate Republicans in swing states cave and the extension passes. However, by holding unemployment benefits hostage each month, conservative Republicans are making it exceedingly difficult for Congress to perform the basic functions of governing.

To avoid this, Democrats have tried to pass a year long extension, but Republicans refuse to let Democrats pass a year long extension. Unemployment extensions have always been considered routine emergency spending requests. Since the creation of unemployment insurance in the 1930's,  whenever unemployment has stood at 8%,  Congress has always passed long term extensions without controversy.  Conservative ideologues in an unprecedented move are insisting that if Democrats want to pass a year long extension that they take money slotted for other stimulus efforts in order to pay for an extension. Democrats have refused because cannibalizing the stimulus would slow down the economic recovery.

In doing this, conservative Republicans are winning a war of attrition aimed at exhausting and intimidating Democrats.  By holding hostage routine legislation like unemployment extensions, they make Democrats afraid to pass more serious jobs legislation like the House passed in December.
So if conservatives aren't willing to let us go small on jobs, then let's go big. We should push direct government hiring programs like the Local Jobs for America Act that could create or save a million jobs. We need to fight for programs that directly give people jobs. It's difficult  to argue against a project that gives someone a job.

Enough Republicans will likely fold when forced to choose between jobs or no jobs, as has already happened with past unemployment insurance votes. Republicans, although wanting to paint Democrats as incompetent on jobs, are even more afraid of being painted as anti-jobs.

Furthermore, seeing the popularity of Democrats rise with the passage of health care reform, some Republicans don't want to be seen as the "Party of No".  We have seen this when Sen. Bob Corker urged Republicans to compromise on financial reform, and Sen. Lindsey Graham broke ranks on clean energy. Even Scott Brown is so worried about being portrayed as the 'Party of No' that he recently declined an invitation to appear at a Tea Party rally with Sarah Palin in Boston.

Originally posted to Mike Elk on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 10:20 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Return to the block grants to the states or go directly to the municipalities. Provide billions to local school boards. Continue to expand the Medicare system to cover more people and more rural clinics. Create a market for hybrid school buses,bio-diesel from non food plants and renewable energy products.

      I don't hit. But I do hit back

      by mcgee85 on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 11:02:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Direct government hiring has ... (3+ / 0-)

    ...been on the wish list of many of us since, well, since the recession began. Sadly, it has about as much chance of passing - or even being introduced into Congress - as Joe Lieberman has of getting kicked out of the Democratic Caucus.

    I refuse to accept "no can do" as a proper slogan for progressives.

    by Meteor Blades on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 10:34:47 AM PDT

  •  I don't get it either. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If they are so concerned about all the people on unemployment -- and now more than 11 million are on some kind of unemployment benefits -- why don't they get to more job creation? Where's the 21st century WPA?

    I keep hearing that government jobs "don't create wealth, they only move tax money around," but if the private sector WON'T create jobs, and this society is built on people being employed for wages, something's gotta give.

    And all those tea partiers bitching about those who don't pay taxes don't seem to get that the reason many of them don't pay taxes is that THEY HAVE NO INCOME.

    New unemployment claims went up again this week, and not a soul seems to be talking about it. There are lots of articles and diaries all over the net about Income Tax Day, but very little news on our crappy employment report.

    I guess they all just think if they ignore it, it will just go away.

    "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

    by Brooke In Seattle on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 11:07:20 AM PDT

  •  Agreed tipped and rec'ed nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    To paraphrase Warren Ballentine: "We may have come here in separate boats but we're in the same one now"

    by OHknighty on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 11:10:22 AM PDT

  •  Tipped, recc'd, bookmarked for community edu. (0+ / 0-)

    "[A] vote for a Republican, no matter what you think of him as a person, is a vote for paralysis." -- Paul Krugman

    by kaliope on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 12:15:15 PM PDT

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