Senate Republicans and a handful of Democrats Saturday defeated a bill to reauthorize unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless and a plethora of tax provisions for the middle class not because of the bill’s trillion-dollar deficit impact, but because it did not include tax cuts for the rich.
“In economic times like these, 9.8 percent unemployment, you should not raise taxes on anyone,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told HuffPost.
Two bills were defeated. By a vote of 53-36, seven short of the 60 needed to break a filibuster, the Senate rejected a measure by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) that would have preserved Bush era tax cuts for lower- and middle-income taxpayers, but would have allowed cuts for people earning more than $200,000 a year to expire. Democrats Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Jim Webb (Va.), Russ Feingold (Wisc.) and Independent Democrat Joe Lieberman (Conn.) joined Republicans in voting nay. The Senate also rejected a bill by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that would have extended all the cuts, but not for anybody making more than $1 million.
The Baucus bill would have preserved Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits Programs created in 2008 as a customary response to rising unemployment. The programs provide up to 73 weeks of federally-funded benefits for when layoff victims exhaust the standard 26 weeks of state-funded aid. The programs lapsed last week, threatening a holiday cutoff for two million unemployed.
After Saturday’s vote, it seems the only way Democrats will be able to overcome Republican opposition to the benefits will be by attaching them to a reauthorization of tax cuts for the rich.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said after the vote that he expected a tax cut deal to be reached by Thursday.
Sen. Schumer said at a press conference that some Democrats would be willing to drag the tax debate on into January. “There are lots of people in our caucus who do have that appetite, there are some who don’t. We’ll have to see what happens.”
Corker declined to say whether he thought unemployment would be included in the deal, as did Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
December 4, 2010
GOP continues the assault on Americans to keep their corporate sponsors happy