House Democrats play politics with unemployment benefits

Posted on November 18, 2010

Democrats always portray their party as the one which looks out for the poor and underrepresented in our society.  They claim their party stands for the middle class of America.  But they threw that notion under the bus today when they decided to place political gain over helping the unemployed:

Legislation that would have extended unemployment benefits for an additional three months failed to earn the required supermajority in the House of Representatives on Thursday.

The final vote was 258-154, ordinarily sufficient to pass legislation. But Democrats brought the measure to the floor using a legislative tactic that required approval from two-thirds of the House. (emphasis mine)

Democrats sought to portray Republicans as unsympathetic to the plight of Americans still struggling to seek employment, particularly as the holiday season is set to begin. Republicans have said any extension should only be passed if the $12.5-billion price tag were offset by spending cuts on other programs. (emphasis mine)

So instead of easily passing an extension of unemployment benefits using their current majority in a routine vote, the House Democrats chose to pull a legislative stunt requiring a two-thirds majority to pass the measure.  Knowing the Republicans wouldn’t vote for such a bill without offsetting spending cuts (something Democrats seem unable to do), the Democrats tried to earn political points by blaming Republicans for the bill’s failure.   

For months the Republicans have been calling for more fiscal responsibility from government.  Their call for offsetting spending cuts to meet the spending increase incurred by extending unemployment benefits is nothing new.  At least the Republicans are sticking to their principles.   

The Democrats, on the other hand, have chosen to try to score political points for themselves over helping the currently unemployed.  Is that what their constituents want them to do?  Do their constituents favor political gaming over passing unemployment benefits extension?

Instead of blaming Republicans, maybe the unemployed should ask the Democrats why they couldn’t just compromise and cut spending elsewhere or even just pass a routine bill with their current majority and without all the trickery.

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