In the long run, Democrats will win the fight over jobless benefits
Sarah Mimms NAILS IT:
For the fifth time this year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid brought an unemployment-insurance extension to the floor last week, even though several members of his party admitted that they didn’t have the votes to pass it.
They came close. But more important for Democratic campaign operatives across the country, they once again got Republicans on the record opposing assistance for the long-term unemployed.
Although Democrats have been crowing about the importance of passing an extension since the benefits expired on December 28, the party has been hesitant to make concessions to Republicans to acquire more of their votes.
That is not to say that Democrats hope the legislation fails. Passing an unemployment-insurance extension would be great news for their party—and the 1.6 million Americans now living without support. Think of it as a win-win situation.
The party is facing little pressure to cave to Republicans, who are asking Democrats to pay for the extension for only the second time in the program’s history. Instead, as each week passes, Democrats seem to be getting closer to the 60 votes they’ll need to pass the extension—they reached 59 (not counting Reid’s procedural switch) for the first time during a vote last Thursday—and Democrats are hopeful that if they hold out a little longer, they’ll get the votes.
But more significant, as they prepare for an election in which they plan to run on income inequality and improving the middle class, the more times Republicans vote against an extension of popular benefits for unemployed individuals, or the House refuses to take up the issue, the better.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Wednesday blasted out a CBS News poll showing that 65 percent of Americans—and, importantly, an equal number of independents—support extending unemployment insurance benefits.
With Republicans voting against the issue or avoiding it altogether, while simultaneously “spending a full day debating new restrictions to women’s health,” one national Democratic operative said, that fits in well with the party’s broader electoral message.