Senate Republicans are willing to discuss an extension of long-term unemployment benefits early next year, as long as it is paid for, several of them told National Journal on Tuesday.
Their willingness to engage on the topic signals that unemployment benefits could become a domestic policy rarity — a safety-net issue that isn’t automatically mired in a political shouting match. But any serious negotiations would require lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to calculate the pluses and minuses of unemployment benefits for the economy and whether it’s appropriate to offset the cost.
That conversation has yet to happen. Some Senate Republicans seem willing, even eager, to have it.
“I don’t want to leave people hurting,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who added that Senate Republicans didn’t even have a chance to consider unemployment as part of the budget deal that passed the House last week. That deal is expected to pass the Senate as early as Wednesday.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., echoed Hatch’s frustration. Unemployment benefits “weren’t a part of this legislation, so it’s kind of hard to say what we would do,” he said. “What is it coupled with? How is it paid for? Are there reforms in how it’s being administered?”
Without congressional action, unemployment benefits for long-term unemployed people will expire on Dec. 28. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has pledged to bring a retroactive unemployment extension to the Senate floor as one of the first orders of business when members return in early January. He wants the benefits to continue for another year, at a cost of $25 billion over 10 years.
Reid’s proposal, which has no offset, will not fly among Republicans.
“I can’t justify adding $25 billion more to the deficit,” said Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas.
But that doesn’t mean other options aren’t available. What if the extension is fully paid for? “That would be a start,” Cornyn said. “The way I understand the economics of this is, you can raise wages on some workers, and you can put other people out of work.”
Cornyn is hinting at a school of thought among some economists that says employers are less likely to create job openings when they know that eligible workers have access to unemployment. First, they have to pay those workers considerably more than their weekly unemployment rate. Second, if they have to lay them off, their tax rates go up.
Democrats will have to contend with these arguments when they propose extending benefits for the long-term unemployed next year. They can say that the Congressional Budget Office projects a net boon for the economy, even with the negative impact of some people remaining unemployed for longer.
But CBO numbers are cold comfort for most Democrats. They plan, initially, to go with the more emotional arguments about the human side of the story, describing in detail the 1.3 million people who are out of work and will suddenly have no safety net, to make Republicans squirm.
“When the reality of what the failure to extend means, we’ll have more of a focus on it than we do now,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., a longtime champion of unemployment benefits.
Republicans may in fact squirm about the plight of the unemployed, particularly from their own constituents. But they won’t begin any talks about benefits unless Democrats show that they are willing to find a way to pay for the extension. That’s a high opening bid, and Democratic leaders fear the demand for offsets could sink the negotiations before they even begin.
“That almost makes it impossible,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill. “It’s so much money. Twenty-five billion. And when I look at what we just went through with this budget agreement, it was not an easy lift.”¦ They won’t go to tax loopholes.”¦ They say, ‘Let’s go to the entitlements,’ and we’re not going to do that.”
Nonetheless, Durbin indicated that Democrats would be willing to offset the unemployment extension if they knew Republicans would accept the deal.
Other Democrats, such as Cardin, are wary of setting that precedent. Almost all of the long-term unemployment benefits that passed by Congress in the last 10 years have not been offset because they were considered a net benefit to the economy. The exception was in 2009, when the economic-stimulus package included extended benefits for the long-term unemployed that were fully paid for. The same extension was reupped in 2011 and in 2012.
Cardin said those offsets were a mistake. “It should not be offset,” he said. “It’s plugging in to the economy.”
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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.”