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Evil Republicans to Unemployed: Drop Dead

June 25, 2010

Anyone clicking on the major news sites Thursday night would have been greeted by a startling headlines that would not exactly make one proud of being a member of the GOP. The headline, of course, is “Evil Republicans To Unemployed: Drop Dead.”

That wasn’t literally the headline…but close enough. The AP reported the failure of the Senate to pass HR4213, which would have — along with other things, such as $1 billion for some kind of “youth summer jobs initiative,”   — extended unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed in “Republicans kill Senate jobless aid measure:

Republicans on Thursday defeated Democrats’ showcase election-year jobs        bill, including an extension of weekly unemployment benefits for millions of people out of work more than six months.

The 57-41 vote fell three votes short of the 60 required to crack a GOP filibuster, delivering a major blow to President Barack Obama and Democrats facing big losses of  House and Senate seats in the fall election.

The bill had been sharply pared back after weeks of negotiations with GOP moderates Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine. The most recent version, unveiled Wednesday night, contained new cuts to food stamps and scaled back the state aid provision to allow Democrats to claim the measure was fully paid for except for the unemployment insurance extension

That didn’t move Republicans like Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

“It adds new taxes and over $30 billion to an already staggering $13 trillion dollar national debt,” said McConnell.

Ouch! Dems are working so hard for the poor unemployed, but those Republicans, well, they just can’t be moved.

The Huffington Post covered the story with similarly, lamenting – first with the booming headline “THE JOBLESS GET JOBBED. Democrats Abandon Aid Package In The Face Of Unified Republican Filibuster,” then with ‘Jobs Bill Fails In Senate: Democrats Say Thursday’s Doomed Vote Was The Last Chance”  —  how noble Democrats like Jesus at a synagogue in Nazareth spoke out in compassion for the poor; only to fall on the stone ears of the Republicans.

This meme continued throughout most major publications. The Los Angeles Times, for example, losing the good will it gathered by interviewing AACONS co-founder Marie Stroughter, ran a headline that said “Senate GOP blocks jobless aid extension.” Wow…mean! Even simply ran the AP version of events.

Most of these stories, strangely enough, did not mention why Republicans voted against this bill. Given that the unemployed are still allowed to vote, and Republicans want votes at least as much as Democrats, that would seem a reasonable question. Besides, isn’t “why” one of the Five Ws of journalism? The stories that did cover the “Why” behind Republican opposition generally featured a statement from Mitch McConnell’s office (or something along those lines) buried eight paragraphs down that essentially said ‘it raises the deficit too much.’ In other words, the mainstream media is painting the Republican Party once again being the Party of No, just as it was during the healthcare reform debate, with neither constructive ideas of its own nor with any concern for the least fortunate of those they are elected to represent.

However, just as in the healthcare debate, Republicans actually do seem to have the capacity to do more than simply vote against whatever the Democrats propose. Unfortunately, one would have to be extremely diligent, extremely intelligent, or extremely lucky to find any reporting of the Republican alternative in the mainstream media. I was extremely lucky. As it turns out, there is a Republican alternative to HR4213. As reported by (),

The final vote, 57 – 41, reflected a gain of one vote in a week where Democrats cut and dropped and sliced to win bipartisan support. Senator Max Baucus, sponsor of the current version of the bill, said that about $100 billion had been taken away the original measure.

For Republicans, it still wasn’t enough.

Much of the Republican aversion to the bill, they have claimed, was that the unemployment benefits extension provision ($35.5 billion) was unpaid for, that there would be an increase in overall taxes, and that the bill would increase the national debt. Democrats countered their argument this week by agreeing to pay for some of the programs in the American Jobs and Tax Loopholes Act of 2010 with some of the unused and unallocated monies from the economic stimulus package and finding ways to pay for the unemployment extensions.

The problem now seems to be the raise in taxes. The taxes are all levied in the business sector.

A Republican version of the bill, sponsored by John Thune, provides for everything the Democrats have incorporated in their bill, actually decreases the deficit, and pays for everything as well. However, Thune’s version does not mention business taxes at all.

So, Republicans had a reasoned argument against the Democrat bill, and suggested an alternative that would have taken a different – and, in my opinion, superior – route to achieve the same result that the Democrats claim that they want. Again, this was also the case in the healthcare reform debate, where the Republican argument became framed as either not wanting to burden insurance companies with the cost of actually insuring people or being willing to sacrifice the well-being of Americans simply to have an issue with which they could embarrass the president – never mind that the Republicans argued for healthcare reform involving interstate portability, tort reform, etc. both during and before the Obama administration (which Senator Obama opposed, by the way).

Unfortunately, the media resists reporting Republican ideas on any major issue, preferring instead to stick to their White House directed narrative that the GOP is the Party of No.


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