A (Short) Guide to the Jobless Benefits Blame Game
With countless headlines reminding readers that jobless benefits begin expiring today, it was inevitable that each party would be slinging blame over the Senate’s failure to pass a filing extension before leaving town last month for spring break. Which is why you’ve got Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) yesterday accusing Republicans of “irresponsibility” and Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) returning fire today with charges that “Democrats thought it was more important to catch their planes” than help the unemployed.
Lost in the hostile little back-and-forth is the same thing that was lost during much of the debate over health care reform: The two sides simply don’t agree on the policy, and so no length of negotiation was likely to produce a compromise.
In the case of unemployment benefits ,the parties are much closer than they put on. Both want to extend the filing deadline, which is today. But the Republicans want to use stimulus funds to pay the tab. The Democrats don’t, arguing that a bit of temporary deficit spending amid the jobs crisis will pay dividends down the road. That’s it. That’s the disagreement. And both sides have an argument to back them up. Funny, though, how quickly the underlying issue gets lost in the mud.