Democrats Offer Republicans a Lifeline on Unemployment Benefits


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.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.