For what it’s worth, the Republicans don’t seem to be in favor of much of anything these days that actually makes sense. On the one hand, I can understand their fixation on reducing the deficit; that is something this country needs to tackle before it gets much worse. Then they say they are in favor of extending the Bush tax cuts; if they really wanted to cut the deficit, they’d let the tax cuts expire. But of course, that doesn’t fit the “lower taxes for everybody and to hell with the consequences!” plank of their policies. We’ve seen time and again this session that great ideas, (see: the public option, the climate bill), go to the Senate to die. Now, another program has fallen to the Senate obstructionism. This time is a bit different, and a bit more worrisome too.
A Part of the Stimulus Even Conservatives Love
What’s different this time, however, is that many Republicans outside of Washington, D.C. are actually in favor of the program, the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund. Indeed, Kevin Hassett of the conservative American Enterprise Institute wrote in Bloomberg back in February that the fund would create “[what] some estimates show as up to 120,000 subsidized jobs” in 29 states.
Some six months later, the independent Center on Budget and Policy Priorities credits the program with creating more than double that number in 37 states. Unfortunately, the program ends on September 30, and when that happens, all those jobs will likely vanish.
The House of Representatives voted to extend it earlier this year; that attempt failed in the Senate. Now they’re trying again, but time is quickly slipping away. As expected, the House passed it again, and now we wait on Senate action. The Senate doesn’t return from the August recess until September 13th, already giving it a very small window of approximately 2 weeks to debate and pass an extension; meeting that timetable is highly unlikely given the partisanship in the Senate- if they even pass it at all. Oh, and the midterm elections are less than two months away; every single Representative and the Senators up for reelection this year will be fully in campaign mode, if they aren’t already.
Naturally, the fact that very little can get over the Senate’s 60-vote hurdle is leading to frustration in the House. According to the Huffington Post, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has directly linked the end of the Emergency Fund with increased unemployment, and is rightly laying the blame on Senate Republicans. The desire to end the program is only among Senate Republicans. Kevin Hassett is no fan of the stimulus; in fact, his article linked above spends considerably more time bashing the stimulus than supporting the Emergency Fund. Sadly, once again the plight of the unemployed has become a campaign issue, with both sides using it to score political points.
Of course, the Senate Republicans are blocking re-authorization of the Emergency Fund citing deficit concerns. Can we please stop taking them seriously? I don’t like to just outright dismiss a potent political minority like that, but it’s getting ridiculous. They seem intent on only one thing: preserving the way things are up until the election instead of doing the right thing for the American people, hoping that voter dissatisfaction will hand them their majorities back. Are we really so simple that we can just fall for their talking points and blame the people that are actually trying to help? Recent national polling seems to suggest we are; I think it’s time we prove them wrong. Otherwise, the real casualty of the Beltway Bubble may be the American way of life as we know it.
The The Casualties of the “Beltway Bubble” by The New Age of Politics, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.