The Democrats won a majority partially because of the economic collapse caused by Republican economic policies. American voters, especially those in the tea party, have such a short memory that many now want to vote the Democrats out of office because of the state of economy. They are totally oblivious to the fact that the economy, with all its problems, is in far better shape than we would have predicted in January 2008. It certainly makes no sense to vote for the party which is responsible for this mess.
Among the absurd accounts of public opinion on this subject was seen in coverage of a poll a week or two ago. People were quoted as saying they would vote Republican because of being unemployed. They were angry about no longer receiving their unemployment benefits. Of course if they were paying attention they would realize that the Democrats have been trying very hard to pass an extension of the benefits, but that a Republican minority in the Senate has been successful so far in blocking them with the filibuster. While at most times I’d be wary about one party having so much power, the more rational response to this situation would be to work to give Democrats a large enough majority to pass their agenda.
It now looks like there is hope for passage of extension of unemployment benefits, but Republicans still might benefit politically from their strategy of making things as bad as possible to hurt the Democrats politically. The Republicans remain far better than the Democrats on the spin war, especially with the rightward bias of much of the broadcast media, but at least Democrats making some attempts. I was happy to see Barack Obama make an issue of the Republican obstruction of jobless benefits this week (video above). The Hill reports:
Obama slams GOP for stalling jobless benefits
President Obama slammed Senate Republicans Saturday for blocking the extension of unemployment benefits.
In his weekly radio address, Obama said keeping those benefits in place would put money in people’s pockets, leading to more consumer spending that could boost local economies. Instead, the president said the minority party is stopping that from happening by filibustering the legislation.
“Too often, the Republican leadership in the United States Senate chooses to filibuster our recovery and obstruct our progress. And that has very real consequences,” Obama said. “Over the past several weeks, more than two million of them have seen their unemployment insurance expire. For many, it was the only way to make ends meet while searching for work — the only way to cover rent, utilities, even food.”
The president said in his address that the Senate has failed three times to extend unemployment benefits with Republicans blocking an up-or-down vote on the bill. Obama said the extension of unemployment benefits should be not controversial and has been treated as a necessary emergency expenditure during economic crises by lawmakers in both parties in the past.
Of course Republicans who don’t want to spend the money on unemployment benefits have no problem with the effect on the deficit of extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.