After Filibuster, Democrats Pull Extenders Bill In Favor Of Another Bill Republicans Promised To Bog Down

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Yesterday, as expected, Republicans and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) filibustered the Senate’s tax extenders bill, which would have extended unemployment benefits and several tax credits, as well as provided fiscal aid to states to help with their Medicaid bills. As a result of the Senate’s inaction, states may be forced to cut 200,000 jobs along with a host of health care and education programs, and 1.2 million people who were expecting unemployment benefits will see them disappear.

This obstructionism comes despite Senate Democrats chopping their original package nearly in half and finding pay-fors for the entire package except for the unemployment insurance. It also occurred despite a subdued economic assessment from the Federal Reserve, which said that “financial conditions have become less supportive of economic growth on balance.” “We have gone more than the extra mile,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT).

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that he is going to pull the extenders bill and move onto a bill meant to boost small business lending. “We’re going to move to the small business jobs bill,” said Reid. “We can’t pass [the extenders bill] until we get some Republicans…It’s up to them.” However, this is the same small business bill that Republicans have already said that they are going to bog down in their intense desire to cut taxes for the heirs of multimillionaires and billionaires:

A small-business bill coming soon to the Senate floor could provide the catalyst for a big issue: the long-awaited debate over the future of the estate tax. Asked Thursday whether he planned to push for an estate tax amendment on that bill, Minority Whip Jon Kyl said: “Count on it.”

It would be incredibly irresponsible for Congress to find spending offsets to cut the estate tax, considering the state of the economy and that the money could be used on job creation measures. But it would be doubly irresponsible to do so without passing the extenders bill, thus leaving the unemployed and those who rely on services in their states simply out to dry.

There are currently 15 millions Americans unemployed, and almost half of them have been out of work for at least six months, which is a post-World War II record. There are nearly five workers actively searching for work for every job available, compared to 1.5 per job opening before the recession began.

At the same time, income inequality is the worst its been since 1928. According to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “the gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest fifths of the country more than tripled between 1979 and 2007 (the period for which these data are available).”

To take care of that top one percent while leaving the unemployed with no safety net at all is simply unforgivable, but it’s what Republicans (and Ben Nelson!) are forcing the Congress to do at the moment.