President Obama's plan to bolster the fragile economic recovery with more government spending hit a wall on Thursday, as Democrats abandoned a proposal to extend jobless benefits to millions of Americans and increase aid to states. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) accused Republicans of blocking the measure in a "cynical game" to win midterm election votes by keeping unemployment high. Republicans said they were just doing the responsible thing by insisting on cuts elsewhere to pay for the new spending. Was it fiscal prudence or just cruel politics that motivated the GOP? (Watch Dick Durbin express frustration over the Republicans' filibuster)
This sure looks like a cynical move by the GOP: Republicans have supported "deficit-financed" tax extensions before, says Steve Benen in Washington Monthly. Why "change course now," when the recovery desperately needs a boost? Blocking this bill only deprives millions of jobless Americans of their "already meager benefits," and forces states to lay off teachers and police by the thousands. It's "unpleasant to think about," but it sure seems "GOP lawmakers are trying to deliberately sabotage the economy to help their midterm election strategy."
"GOP poised to kill tax-extenders bill"
Democrats are the ones being cynical: Don't believe the Democrats' spin, says William A. Jacobson in Legal Insurrection. Republicans are just trying to restore "some small measure of fiscal sanity" after the way Democrats have "broken the bank." The GOP would be happy to extend unemployment benefits if the Democrats would stop "holding Americans financially hostage to their big government programs" and accept some cuts to their "bloated" spending.
"Sheldon Whitehouse rewrites history"
Republicans have changed their tune since losing power: "I don't think many Republicans are actually trying" to disrupt the recovery "because they know that a slow economy is their best route to regaining power," says Jonathan Chait in The New Republic. But when the GOP was in power the same people were very receptive to arguments in favor of bailouts and deficit spending. Now that they're out of power, their priorities have changed, and they find the arguments for trimming the deficit a whole lot more compelling.
"It's not a lie if you believe it"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Yes, Republicans can impeach President Obama
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- Why Texas' abortion rates aren't falling as quickly as everyone expected
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The 5 best and worst states for a well-lived life
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- What religious traditionalists can teach us about sex
- 7 ideas from ancient thinkers that will improve your modern life
- The NFL is terrified of the culture war
- 10 things you need to know today: July 29, 2014
Subscribe to the Week