Where We Are on Unemployment Insurance

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 15 2014 10:02 AM

Where We Are on Unemployment Insurance

455470485-sen-kelly-ayotte-talks-on-her-phone-as-she-rides-an
Kelly Ayotte may know the best way to proceed from here: by escalator, of course.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Speaking of other stories that affect a lot of struggling families and don't have "New Jersey" in them, the Senate has reached an impasse on unemployment insurance. By this I mean that the Democratic offers to extend UI, for the rest of the year or for three months, were blocked by, respectively, 48 and 45 votes. (Three Democrats joined the GOP to deny cloture on the plan to pay for UI by moving forward sequestration cuts to Medicare.)

Like everything else in the Senate, this has devolved into a messaging war with billions of dollars at stake. The Democratic position, basically, is that voters will get angry at Republicans and move them to action, because they're the ones providing the "no" votes. Harry Reid made this impossible to miss: "When people start talking endlessly about process, write op-eds about process and on the other side you have 1.4 million people who are desperate, desperate for some help, what argument wins?"

Advertisement

The Republican position is that any extension must be paid for, and that for the time being New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte has a payfor only an America-hater could reject: denying child tax benefits to illegal immigrants. The best "messaging" of this has come not from the RNC or FreedomWorks or something, but from a headline writer at the Washington Examiner: "What if you could restore veterans' pensions, fund jobless benefits and stop illegal immigrant fraud, all at once? Democrats would block it."

So, that's where we are. Sorry, unemployed person, but the people you elected are hardly going to stop a pissing contest in midstream.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Republicans Like Scott Walker Are Building Campaigns Around Problems That Don’t Exist

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

The World

Iran and the U.S. Are Allies

They just aren’t ready to admit it yet.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

How Steven Moffat Made the Best Doctor Who Episode in Years

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 16 2014 2:11 PM Spare the Rod What Charles Barkley gets wrong about corporal punishment and black culture.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 16 2014 1:23 PM Germany Has Asked Google to Reveal Its Search Algorithm, but That's Not Going to Happen
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 1:27 PM The Veronica Mars Spinoff Is Just Amusing Enough to Keep Me Watching
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 1:48 PM Why We Need a Federal Robotics Commission
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 1:39 PM The Case of the Missing Cerebellum How did a Chinese woman live 24 years missing part of her brain?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.