If Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize-winning economist for the New York Times, told the Republicans that their approach to ending the nation’s deficit woes would not be solved during an economic downturn by less spending, would it make them more inclined to compromise on the 2010 Unemployment Extension Bill? It is the Republicans default answer: No, because it will increase the national deficit. But compromise would be doubtful anyway, considering that Paul Krugman writes his economic op-ed pieces for the New York Times. But something has to work — something that will get Republicans to give a little and produce a bill quickly that will free up monies so that those on unemployments reaching their eligibility limits can get an extension. Paul Krugman’s suggestion Sunday that: “Penny-pinching at a time like this isn’t just cruel; it endangers the nation’s future,” however, went unheeded.
The unemployment debate was short-lived on Capitol Hill Wednesday, much as it has been all week, as anyone with a television knows. A couple speeches on C-Span and done. Of course, the unemployed were no doubt just sitting around, all comfortable and snug in their “spoiled” lifestyle (an observation made by Republican candidate for Nevada senator Sharron Angle), considering that they’re making more money than they would at some “honest” job. And while they were contemplating just how they had it made, they were probably concocting some scheme that required acquiring a huge batch of Gold Seal to beat those drug tests Senator Orrin Hatch would probably get passed in his amendment so they wouldn’t miss out on any of those unemployment benefits they had become addicted to…
The only thing sadder than the aforementioned story’s details is that, except for the fictitious unemployed individual, everything else in the details was true. Millions of Americans are out of work, out of unemployment benefits, soon to be out of unemployment benefits, out of options, and some soon to be out of doors. Sharron Angle did say those things — and on camera. Senator Orrin Hatch did propose that drug testing amendment — and it could be added to the final bill. Meanwhile, the Congressional representatives and senators were taking their time, making speeches, and doing next to nothing about attempting to come to a compromise about an extension on unemployment.
At least on Tuesday, some headway had been made in the provision to provide Medicaid relief to state’s whose programs were floundering. CQ Politics reported that the paring of the Medicaid relief from over $24 billion to $20 billion (and using $4 billion in unused stimulus money to cover some of the cost of the said $20 billion) just might get the two moderate Republican senators from Maine, Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins to vote for the full tax and benefits extension bill.
But two votes only gets the Democrats to 58. They still need two more votes.
Most believe Democratic senators will make concessions to the only Democrat to vote against cloture last Thursday, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut in order to swing the 60 votes needed to pull the revised bill out of debate and send it to the floor for a final vote.
The U. S. Department of Labor estimates that around 900,000 people have seen their unemployment benefits suspended while waiting for the Senate to pass the extension bill. Another 300,000 are expected to lose their benefits by the first week of July. The latest unemployment extension takes recipients up through the first week of November.
Unfortunately for those depending on unemployment benefits to make ends meet, there is no guarantee that the bill will get passed at all, if ever. Making a tense situation even more tense, a rumor raced around the internet Wednesday that the Senate was about to recess and not return until after the July 4th weekend. But it turned out to simply be a rumor and nothing more. The U. S. Senate schedule, according to TheCapitol.net, calls for a recess starting July 5, which means that the Senate will most likely adjourn on Friday, July 2.
Most believe that the Senate will have come to a compromise by that time. Surely after a month of wrangling in the Senate, a hundred men and women could come to some sort of agreement where at least 60 of those individuals could agree… Couldn’t they?
Although hundreds of thousands of people, even millions by extension, are counting on that being the case, the simple truth of the matter is: No one really knows.