Happy New Year, everybody! We enjoyed a low-key and fairly early night with friends, in anticipation of celebrating Finn’s fourth birthday this morning. He’s convinced that he’ll magically be able to do a lot of things now that he’s not three anymore. I hope he’s not too disappointed to learn that things don’t work like that. CabinGirl is working on his cake this morning.
On the political front, I note that Harry Reid intends to make the first order of business on Monday an effort to extend unemployment insurance for the 1.3 million people who just lost that benefit on Saturday. His fellow senator from Nevada, Dean Heller, is co-sponsoring the legislation along with Senator Jack Reed (D-RI).
However, there is little reason to believe that the House will agree to an extension, and they certainly won’t agree to one unless it is offset with spending cuts elsewhere in the budget. The best time to extend benefits was when the Murray-Ryan budget negotiations were underway, because the Republican leadership and most of their appropriators were desperate for a deal. The White House doesn’t think a deal was attainable that included an extension, and that may be true. But, for me, that just makes it less likely that an extension can be achieved now.
Personally, I think the truth is more that the White House wasn’t willing to risk losing what they got out of the deal by insisting on an extension, and they figure that they can use it as an effective political issue. I got a bit of a brushback on that, by I don’t care if it strikes some folks on Pennsylvania Avenue as an offensive suggestion. I think they made a calculation, and the long-term unemployed were left to the mercy of the House Republicans.
Maybe that was the best choice under the circumstances but, in my view, the only way to vindicate that choice is to prove me wrong and actually compel the House to pass an extension. Otherwise, I’ll have to conclude that they didn’t fight when it actually mattered.