Today Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to call a vote on a new compromise bill to retroactively provide and extend unemployment insurance for the long-term unemployed. In this version, Reid and the Democrats have met the Republican demands, yet Republicans are still threatening to filibuster.
There are truly no more excuses: either Republicans vote for this bill, or they expose their callous disregard for the long-term unemployed.
What Democrats initially wanted was a year-long extension that is not paired with deficit reduction, so the jobless aid not only helps those in need but gives a stimulative jolt to the sluggish economy.
But what Democrats are putting on the Senate floor is what Republicans claim to want. A short three-month extension. No stimulus: The costs are offset. In fact, they are offset by extending a temporary provision that both parties recently approved, effectively allowing companies to put less pre-tax money in their pension funds and creates more taxable profits in the short run.
Furthermore, Reid tacked on a Republican proposal to deny long-term jobless aid to the handful of unemployed people who earned more than $1 million in the previous year.
But whether enough Republicans will vote to break a filibuster is unknown at this writing. Republican leaders, instead of praising the Democrats for bending to their demands, are withholding support unless Reid allows more votes on amendments.
The demand is disingenuous. Last-minute amendments to a tenuously negotiated compromises is how compromises get destroyed. Conservatives who have no interest in supporting the final bill, with the help of a few cowardly Democrats, can insert poison pills that will drive away the lion’s share of Democrats and sink the bill.
Those Republicans who claimed they would support a jobless aid bill that did not add to the deficit now have one to vote on. If they move the goalposts now, it will be clear to voters in the midterm elections where they stand.
And it would not be on the side of those struggling to find work and make ends meet.