Senate Republicans released their own legislation to extend unemployment-insurance benefits Thursday evening, undercutting a separate effort offered by Sen. Jack Reed that has the support of Democratic leadership.
The Republican plan would extend the benefits, which kick in after an individual has been unemployed for at least 26 weeks, for five months including retroactive benefits. If passed immediately by both chambers, the new benefits would expire again for all beneficiaries in late May while Congress works to find a longer-term solution. In other words, those who hit the 26-week quota before the extension is made law would get far less than five months of benefits.
Significantly, the proposal would require beneficiaries to accept any offer of “suitable work” or any position recommended to them by a state employment agency.
The new proposal is cosponsored by the very Republican senators that Democrats have been lobbying to support their own bill, potentially putting Reed’s six-month extension on ice. They are Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada, Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio, Dan Coats of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Mark Kirk of Illinois. Heller, in particular, has been working with Reed and other Senate Democrats for months to reinstate the benefits.
A Senate Democratic aide with knowledge of the talks expressed frustration Wednesday that Portman was not negotiating “in good faith” and had begun pulling Republican supporters away from the Democratic solution toward a proposal of his own.
“Since the beginning of the debate, I’ve stood ready to work in a bipartisan manner for a solution for the long-term unemployed,” Portman said in a statement accompanying the text of the bill. “I’m hopeful my colleagues on both sides will get behind this proposal so we can start working on real, permanent solutions for the American people.”
Murkowski, who has voted in favor of previous attempts to restore the benefits, took an even harder line. She has been strongly critical of Reed’s new plan, which would pay for the extension using savings from the farm bill, which Republicans believe will never materialize.
“If the Senate does not and will not allow this bill to come up for a vote — instead pushing a party-line measure paid for by budget gimmicks — it should be clear that they are more interested in cable TV talking points than helping Americans in need,” she said.
The Republican plan would pay for the five-month extension by extending customs user fees through 2024, preventing beneficiaries from also receiving Social Security disability insurance, and extending pension smoothing (which would allow employers to contribute less to their employees’ pension plans). Notably, Republicans rejected the latter offset earlier in the negotiations.
The bill would also reform the overall program, requiring state and federal agencies involved to identify why an applicant is unemployed and “identify steps” that person should take “to improve employment prospects.” It would also prevent “millionaires and billionaires” from receiving the benefits, according to a release.
Also on Thursday, House Democrats made a stronger push for an extension in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner signed by 161 of their members. The letter cites a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimating that 200,000 veterans have now lost their unemployment-insurance benefits.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”