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Harry Reid is a brilliant person. I have had my disagreements with him in the past. I think he has been, until recently, too tied up in the pre-1995 history of the United States Senate in the way he runs things. He has been all too willing to let the Republicans carry on with their ridiculous obstruction in the name of upholding obsolete Senate traditions. The traditions he was trying to protect are laudable, but they only work when Senators of both parties interact in good faith. Since 1995 (and especially since 2008), Republicans in the Senate (and indeed in Washington) have become so conservative and radicalized that they would rather sabotage good policy than let their political opponents have a "win". In the process, they are harming innocent Americans who need the help of their government. See below the fold for why I think the Majority Leader is brilliant.

Harry Reid has correctly predicted that any attempts at negotiating a paid-for extension with Senate Republicans will meet with failure. Even those Republicans who might want to negotiate in good faith on a paid-for extension of unemployment benefits (Portman, Coats, Ayotte, Collins, and maybe Kirk)  are under tremendous pressure from their own caucus to keep moving the goals posts on what they want. I believe that most of the Senators I named above want to pass an extension because they believe it is good policy and profitable politically, but they are hamstrung by their ridiculous party and the moneyed interests that own the Republican brand. Harry Reid basically gave Senate Republicans more than enough time to come up with workable proposals to pay for the extension.

Republican arguments that Reid pulled the rug out from under them by proposing a near year-long extension instead of a 3-month paid for extension are ridiculous. After the successful cloture on Tuesday, Reid said publicly that he was open to a paid-for unemployment extension, but only if that extension is for longer than 3 months. When Reid saw that the Republicans were not heeding his condition on the minimum length of a paid-for extension and that they were offering up politically charged amendments, he did the only thing he could do: He basically gave the Republicans everything they wanted, especially the pay-for and a modification to current law that prevents citizens receiving disability from also collecting federal unemployment benefits, and told them to take it or leave it. He even reduced the number of weeks of federal UI available at the various unemployment rate triggers (I feel this was a policy and political mistake, but whatever). These actions have placed Senate Republicans in the position that if they reject the bill on Monday, they will be portrayed in the media as ideologically opposed to the unemployment extension programs - which they are. If the second cloture vote on the unemployment bill fails on Monday, Reid, Reed, Heller, and Murray will go back to work negotiating with the rest of the Senate Republicans (remember, the Monday vote is to end debate on the unemployment legislation). If those negotiations fail, Reid can attach the extension to an important piece of legislation later in the month. Federal unemployment will eventually be extended, and Republicans will be made to look like the clueless, callous plutocrats that they are.

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Comment Preferences

  •  But not for the 70,000 that were dumped off the (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pilotshark, elwior, Aquarius40, Dodgerdog1

    long term benefits role Tiers in North Carolina by the Raleigh Tar Heel Taliban back in July 2013...

    They have now been relegated to the land of the unreported, and ignored.

    "It's only the giving, that makes what you are." - Ian Anderson

    by LamontCranston on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 12:26:33 PM PST

    •  But... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dodgerdog1, LamontCranston

      I think that the unemployment extension bill (as amended) includes a provision that allows states with less than 26 weeks of state unemployment to be eligible for the federal extension programs. This is little comfort to those North Carolinians who are being cheated out of 13 weeks of state unemployment insurance, but it is better than no federal extension.

  •  I think there will be an extention through 2014 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil

    but that it will be paid for with cuts acceptable to the GOP. Personally I would like to see it funded by increasing the deficit, not by cuts in other social programs.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 03:01:47 PM PST

    •  I would like to see it extended by a tax increase (0+ / 0-)

      or repeal of a subsidy, or at least by closing a loophole.

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:18:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Me too (0+ / 0-)

        I would love to see Harry Reid suggest a temporary 1-2% surtax on the wealthy to pay for just this unemployment extension. Considering how crazy things have gotten with Republicans, it would probably go nowhere, but it would remind voters who congressional Rs are really working for. The problem with this, is that any bill that raises revenue must originate out of the House. Since this Senate bill is not a vehicle from the House, it could not include revenue language.

        •  Is repeal of a subsidy a revenue increase? (0+ / 0-)

          Yes, I know how Republicans spin it, but in reality it means spending less, not taxing more.

          Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

          by Mokurai on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 08:31:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Is it more important to extend UI (0+ / 0-)

          or make a political point? The GOP will extend them for all of 2014 if there is an offset acceptable to them. They aren't going to raise taxes on the wealthy, who had a big tax increase in Jan, 2013, or cut defense spending or any of the other spending or subsidies that progressives would like to cut. So it will come down to what's important. Spending cuts beyond F2014 can be changed by the next Congress. I think the most important thing is extending this lifeline to people out of work.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 09:04:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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