Democrats Offer Republicans a Lifeline on Unemployment Benefits

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Greg Sargent reports on the latest maneuvering over the extension of unemployment insurance benefits:

Senate Democrats are closing in on an agreement to pay for an 11-month extension of unemployment benefits with spending cuts that would not go into effect for at least a decade, sources tell me. This would probably be acceptable to liberals, because it would sustain a lifeline for the jobless right now, while pushing off any damage the “pay for” would do deep into the future.

There are two ways to look at this. The first and most obvious is that it’s ridiculous. Democrats are saying they want to spend $17 billion this year in return for $17 billion in cuts in 2023. I don’t really need to point out that nobody over the age of five believes those cuts will materialize a decade from now, do I?

But there’s a second, more congenial way of looking at this: as a lifeline for Republicans. They say they want UI benefits paid for. They also say they truly empathize with folks who have been out of work for a long time. Furthermore, they’re uneasy about their reputation for meanspiritedness and are looking for something that will soften their image. Et voilà! Here’s their solution. Sure, it’s basically sophistry, but no more so than most of what they do every day of their lives. And anyway, everyone knows that it makes no sense to pay for the UI extension in the first place.

So this is it: a way for Republicans to have their cake and nibble on it too. But I’ll bet they don’t bite.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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