WASHINGTON — The looming expiration of federal unemployment benefits raises the question of whether Democratic lawmakers bungled the debate.
Though Congress can still act retroactively, Democrats‘ goal had been to pass an extension of the benefits before Dec. 28, when they are set to expire. The administration and allies on the Hill tried to attach a provision to the budget deal passed in mid-December. But by the time they began engaging the fight, few Democrats seemed particularly attentive and Republicans were more than comfortable running out the clock.
Now, with Congress in recess, long-term unemployment insurance will come to an end for 1.3 million Americans, potentially costing 240,000 jobs, according to the White House‘s Council of Economic Advisers. Was it inevitable? Or was it a case of political mismanagement?
A pair of polls show Americans are largely unhappy with both the GOP and the tea party wing of the party.
Tea party favorability has fallen to an all-time low according a Gallup poll released Wednesday, which found a slight majority (51%) of Americans have an unfavorable view of the tea party. The poll finds 30% of Americans feel positively about the tea party, down from a high of 39% in 2011. Republicans are most likely to support the movement, with 58% seeing it favorably, and unsurprisingly Democrats overwhelmingly dislike the tea party – 74% to 10%.
Moderates aren’t too keen on the movement either. While the split is not as stark as with Democrats, moderates are more likely than even the general public to say they don’t favor the tea party (54%) and only 23% say they do favor it.
It turns out moderates tend to prefer the Democratic Party to the Republican Party as well. A secondGallup poll released Wednesday finds Democrats maintain a 10-point lead over Republicans in terms of favorability with the American public. While moderates are currently evenly split on the Democratic Party, with 47% viewing it positively and another 47% viewing it negatively, only 27% of moderates have positive views of the Republican Party right now.
The Democratic-controlled Senate today voted to invoke the so-called nuclear option out of frustration over Republicans who have been blocking President Barack Obama’s nominees.
The controversial move is a rules change that could make a partisan environment even more divisive because it takes away the right for the Senate’sminority party to filibuster.
Under the old rules it took 60 votes to break a filibuster. The change now allows most filibusters of Obama nominees to be stopped with 51 votes — a simple Senate majority.
Get complete coverage of breaking news on CNNTV, CNN.com and CNN Mobile.
“Here are the basics of what you need to know on where budget talks are in Congress: Right now, a bipartisan budget conference committee is working to produce a long-term budget solution — they have until December 13th to hammer out a plan. >From there, Congress will have until January 15th to debate, tweak, and pass the budget to avoid another government shutdown. That’s also the day that the next round of devastating sequester cuts will go into effect — these cuts were designed to put pressure on Congress to find a solution. If they fail to pass a budget by that date, the new round of sequestration cuts will be much more severe than the ones we saw in 2013. Many government agencies still had funding available from previous years that they were able to dig into, and take steps to prevent furloughs and deep budgetary cuts — but now, they’re running out of options, and another round of sequester cuts would slow our fragile economic recovery. The bottom line is that there’s a lot at stake over the next two months. Congress needs to step up and pass a long-term budget that addresses sequester cuts and grows our economy from the middle out.” …Nico Probst, OFA
Having watched their party descend into chaos over the government shutdown, Republicans aren’t likely to let the fiscal negotiations upstage Obamacare’s problems again. And that could be good news for the Congressional leaders who are struggling to put together a budget agreement by mid-December.
Republicans have seen a huge reversal in political fortune since the government reopened and Obamacare’s problems have taken center stage. “It would argue against not having another shutdown: have Democrats keep shooting themselves in the foot and the president keep giving disastrous press conferences,” says Tevi Troy, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a former Bush health official.
The anxiety over Warren grew Monday after a magazine report suggested the bank-bashing Democratic senator from Massachusetts could mount a presidential bid in 2016 and would not necessarily defer to Hillary Clinton — who is viewed as far more business-friendly — for the party’s nomination
And the fear is not only that Warren, who channels an increasingly popular strain of Occupy Wall Street-style anti-corporatism, might win. That is viewed by many political analysts as a slim possibility. It is also that a Warren candidacy, and even the threat of one, would push Clinton to the left in the primaries and revive arguments about breaking up the nation’s largest banks, raising taxes on the wealthy and otherwise stoking populist anger that is likely to also play a big role in the Republican primaries.
The Republican-turned-Democrat is considered a front-runner for the Democratic ticket. He would likely be up against current Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican. Scott represents a far more conservative version of the GOP than Crist ever did.
Crist is clearly hoping to benefit from widespread anger about the government shutdown, the majority of which has focused on Republicans. Earlier in the week, Crist appeared in a newly posted YouTube video directed at Florida voters, urging them to “end this nonsense and get us back to common sense” ways of governing.
“I’m an optimist but let’s face it, the last few years have been tough: government on the fringes, donors in politics above you the people,” said Crist in the video. “You’ve seen the attacks against full-time working people and their health care; against women and their doctors; against teachers, public schools and college affordability; And even against the simple act of casting your vote. It’s not working.”
2012 was a banner year for women in Congress, ushering in a record-high number of women to the House and Senate.
Next year may be an equally good year for female governors.
Thirty-six states will hold governor’s elections next year, and Democrats have top female recruits in at least five states who are poised to be their party’s nominee and competitive in the general election. Coupled with the four female governors who are running for reelection – three Republicans and one Democrat – observers say 2014 could see gains for women as states’ top executives.
“This is a year of opportunity at the gubernatorial level,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University. “I think that there has been increasingly more and more attention paid to the issue of women in politics … there is some real potential here for growth.”