Every day in Congress, in their states and districts, in the media, on their websites, elected Democrats should be loudly messaging the imminent loss
of unemployment compensation as yet another example of Republicans giving the shaft to more than two million vulnerable Americans. Of flipping off citizens already on the economic precipice.
Happily, as Greg Sargent points out, this is exactly the Democratic campaign that is under way:
On the morning after lawmakers reached a budget deal that doesn’t include an extension in unemployment benefits, chief GOP budget architect Paul Ryan awoke to a raft of home-state headlines that were all about the nearly 100,000 Wisconsinites who stand to get cut off. [...]
You can see those and a lot more at this compilation of front pages put together by Dems on the Ways and Means Committee. [...]
(Dems have created an interactive map showing how many people in each state stand to lose benefits.)
This fact is central to the emerging Dem strategy to increase pressure on Republicans to agree to an extension. House Dems are working to drum up as much local press coverage of the issue as possible, because local coverage can focus directly on how many constituents in a lawmaker’s state stand to be hurt—making it hit home in a way Beltway media coverage can’t.
Model behavior. Shine the spotlight on those in Congress who are willing to put millions, including children, into the soup lines.
There are those who argue that the not-yet-approved budget agreement without an extension of the federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation program is-the-best-we-can-get-under-the-circumstances-of-a-GOP-controlled-House. It may be true that House Republicans won't fold. But surrendering before fighting is the cowardly way out. There is nothing pragmatic about it. It's just plain lousy politics.
Certainly it will be an uphill battle to get enough Republicans to break ranks over this matter by Friday. But showing people in the home districts the damage this devil-take-the-hindmost deal will cause, not only to the long-term unemployed and their families, but to the overall economy at least has the hope of changing some minds. With a nudge from the White House, Speaker John Boehner might be persuaded to allow a bill renewing the extension of emergency compensation to come to a roll-call vote, either as part of the budget deal or as separate legislation. Then, those who choose to oppose it won't be able to hide their callous indifference to the plight of millions.
Again, this tactic may not succeed. But the only way to be sure a method of attack will fail is not to try it. Pre-compromising is a loser tactic. As Sargent says, "I wouldn’t give up on Republicans agreeing to the extension just yet."