POLITICS

Senate Democrats Double Down: 'Republicans Are Killing Jobs To Save Their Own'

07/15/2010 02:15 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Senate Democrats are doubling down on the argument that Republicans refuse to reauthorize extended unemployment benefits because they want a better November through a worse economy.

"There's only one kind of job Republicans care about saving or creating: their own," said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in a statement. "To advance their political prospects, Republicans are pushing a job-killing agenda that America can't afford: protecting tax breaks for CEOs who ship jobs overseas, while blocking tax cuts for small businesses and middle-class families. "

Jobless aid for the long-term unemployed lapsed at the beginning of June as Republicans and some Democrats, citing deficit concerns, have blocked votes on domestic aid bills for the past month. More than 2.1 million people and counting have prematurely stopped receiving benefits.

"Democrats have run into nothing but a solid wall of Republican opposition at every turn," Manley said, "even for common-sense measures like providing a safety net for Americans while they look for work, cutting taxes for small businesses and closing loopholes for CEOs that ship jobs overseas."

One of the bricks in that GOP wall is Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson, who has steadfastly refused to support any spending that adds a dime to the deficit. After three attempts to move a bill that included aid to states and tax breaks for businesses (and tax increases for rich investment fund managers), Democrats eventually brought a standalone unemployment reauthorization -- it failed by one vote. Reid has said that Democrats will have the 60 votes they need on Tuesday, after a replacement for the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) has been sworn in. If the benefits are approved, people who prematurely missed checks will be paid retroactively (people who already exhausted all weeks of benefits available before the lapse will get nothing).

"Curious as to what our 'job-killing agenda' is," said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). "Is it the tax hikes on small businesses, or the mandates on job creators, or the trillions in new debt? Or maybe it's the economic policies that 86 percent of Americans say has HURT them or had no effect. Oh wait, that's what we've been working against."

Economist Mark Zandi, a former adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), has said failing to reauthorize unemployment benefits would in fact endanger the economic recovery, and that Congress should not offset the cost of the benefits because doing so would diminish their stimulative effect. "The odds that the economy will slip back into the recession are still well below even," Zandi said. "But if Congress is unable to provide this help, those odds will rise and become uncomfortably high."

"It's a strategy meant more to increase their size in the Senate than it is to create the number of jobs necessary for our families," said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) on Wednesday.

"If they can stop the recovery from occurring, if they can create as much pain as possible, the cynical view is people will be angry and either drop out and not vote at all or vote against those in the majority," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) in June.

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