Exposing The Scrooges

Digby

Greg Sargent reports that the fight to extend Unemployment Insurance may not be quite done yet:

Democrats and liberal groups are still not giving up. They are planning a concerted, multi-faceted push over the break designed to pressure Republicans — not Congress; Republicans — to agree to renew the benefits. This comes after Harry Reid announced that a vote on extending UI — which Republicans continue to resist — will take place when the Senate reconvenes in January.

Here, courtesy of multiple sources involved in the planning, are the main events planned for this pressure campaign:

1) Liberal groups will launch a national TV ad campaign that hits Republicans for letting benefits expire for over one million Americans, to be launched the day after Christmas and run on national cable through at least December 28th, the day benefits are set to expire. The ads will also highlight GOP priorities by spotlighting GOP opposition to nixing loopholes enjoyed by the top one percent even as a lifeline expires for over one million far less fortunate Americans.

There may also be a second round of ads launched when Congress returns in early January. The ads — backed by a “significant” buy, a source says — will be run by Americans United for Change. Other groups involved in the broader campaign include the National Employment Law project, AFSCME, the AFL-CIO, SEIU, and UAW.

2) House Democrats are planning a big push in local media, with the goal of using local coverage to dramatize how constituents in Republican districts will be impacted by the expiration of benefits. This is hyper-granular stuff: I’m told Ways and Means Committee Dems are collecting county-by-county data on the number of people who will be kicked off benefits, and pushing local press outlets to reflect these numbers in their coverage.

The idea is to make it harder for individual lawmakers to escape the direct consequences, in their districts, of failing to renew benefits, bringing it home. The goal is to inspire more press coverage like this, this, and this.

3) Liberal groups are drawing up lists of House Republicans who are both vulnerable and reside in states where unemployment is high. The targeting of them will take various forms, such as conference calls — directed at local media in their states and districts — that feature people who are losing benefits.

Meanwhile, labor unions are planning events in states, and liberal groups are planning polls on unemployment benefits in both marginal districts and nationally. Results should be released next week.

There is evidence that even the misanthropic Republicans can be moved to deal with this, especially a Christmas time. It’s very smart for these groups to do national advertising on this over the holiday and focus on local media. As much as these people want to cut of the unemployed, they are subject to the pressure from normal people not to be cruel and ungenerous.

Normally this would have been put into the budget deal as a price for some horrible concession from Democrats.  But this time it didn’t make it and from the sound of it the leaders of both parties pretty much figure it’s a dead duck. The recession is over, long live the recession.

But it’s always possible that they could relent if enough public pressure is brought to bear.  And there’s no better time to call attention to these horrible Scrooges than now. So good for the liberals. Maybe they’ll pull this one out.

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