Arthur Delaney reports that “Democratic leaders in the Senate have apparently failed to win enough support to overcome a Republican filibuster of a bill to help the poor, the old and the jobless, despite making a series of cuts to the measure over the past several weeks to appease deficit hawks.” To be clear about what’s going on here, the bill is supported by a majority of Senators. But a minority of 41 Republicans plus Ben Nelson will suffice to kill it, and kill it they shall.
As Steve Benen observes, “in the Senate, 42 is greater than 58, even when our economic health is on the line.”
In the real world, this means millions of jobless Americans will lose their already-modest benefits, and hundreds of thousands of workers will be laid off over the next year, including teachers, police officers, and firefighters. All of this will happen because Republicans are more concerned about the deficit — a deficit they created under Bush/Cheney — than the economy.
It’s unpleasant to think about, and I really hope it’s not true, but it may be time for a discussion about whether GOP lawmakers are trying to deliberately sabotage the economy to help their midterm election strategy. After all, these same Republicans have supported deficit-financed tax-extenders before — there’s no credible reason to change course now. On the contrary, with the economy struggling to break through, the need for this package is more obvious, not less, if your goal is to actually improve economic conditions.
Pat Garofalo has more on the policy substance here, noting that about 200,000 jobs could plausibly be lost as a result of the minority’s obstructionism here. And do note that if conditions do worsen many, many, many more Americans will blame Barack Obama for the bad state of things than will blame the Senate minority. The filibuster might not be so pernicious were its impact generally understood by the public, but the intersection of a minority that’s empowered to obstruct and an electorate that holds the majority responsible for policy outcomes is toxic.