enate Republicans blocked a third Democratic attempt to extend unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed last week, meaning that 1.3 million people have lost their weekly checks, and another 2 million will by August if the extension isn't passed. Are Republicans, as President Obama suggested, holding the jobless "hostage," or are they watching out for America's fiscal health by demanding that any extension be paid for up front, not borrowed? (Watch an MSNBC discussion about the "jobless summer")
The GOP's being "cruel" and "misguided": The Republicans are simply "heartless," says Paul Krugman in The New York Times. "Penny-pinching" on jobless benefits in a time of persistent unemployment is unheard of, and it hurts the economic recovery as well as the desperate workers looking for nonexistent jobs. Clearly, the GOP has made the "cynical calculation" that economic pain spells electoral gains for them, jobless be damned.
"Punishing the jobless"
What's wrong with paying for perks? Apparently, "in Krugman's world, money does grow on trees," says Bob Owens in Confederate Yankee. Luckily, GOP senators live in the real world, which is why they'll extend jobless benefits if Democrats pay for them "with the unspent stimulus money they have in pocket." That's more than generous. If Obama wants to tame unemployment, he'll get out of the private sector's business.
"Paul Krugman is an economic genius?"
Both parties are playing "political Frisbee": In the end, Republicans and Democrats will probably compromise, says Jay Small-Newton in Time, but both sides went home for the July 4th break satisfied with their talking points: The GOP can brag to a deficit-wary public that it's now fiscally responsible, and Democrats can paint the GOP as "pro–Wall Street obstructionists." The only losers, it seems, are the unemployed.
"Amid a political standoff, the unemployed still wait"
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