The Dems left this out of the budget deal, perhaps thinking that there was enough support among GOP senators from hard-hit states. Immediately with the new year, Dem senators started negotiating with moderate GOP senators and met them part-way: the Senate would consider a 3-month extension and also an 11-month version (the 3-month version having more GOP support). Also, the extra spending would be paid for with savings elsewhere in the budget. With those terms, 5-6 GOP senators joined the Dem caucus to overcome the first 60-vote choke point.
Then the negotiations feel apart. Harry Reid didn't allow these GOP senators to propose amendments, a nasty majority leader trick that isn't new but that Reid uses often. Do you suppose that would piss off the senators who had just helped on the recent vote? No surprise, it did.
The methods for "paying for" the extra spending were also a sticking point. Harry Reid offered mostly future money from 2024 to pay for the benefits--no current spending would be touched. This is a bad habit with the federal government--assuming future savings or economic growth will make budget fudges balance. I don't know if this ever worked.
So with these two big problems, the deal fell apart. What is the official word from the Democrats? According to Chuck Shumer, the second-ranking Dem in the Senate: "The bottom line is our Republican colleagues don’t seem to get it." That bit of drivel falls apart with one follow-up question: What was the sticking point on the deal?
Come on guys. No one is going to give an unconditional surrender. You have to negotiate! I worry that Harry Reid has an angle on this where he doesn't suffer at all, but he certainly should suffer at least a little.
Extras. Just a reminder, I'm not for endless extensions. One year is the maximum I support because 1) people have to adapt to the new reality. 2) Business need to have an endpoint on their contributions for laid-off workers if they're to do any new hiring.
- A very biased news report.
- Seven reasons why long-term unemployment is bad, but not why endless extension of payments is good.