THE HUFFINGTON POST
By Sam Stein and Arthur Delaney
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?
By Benjy Sarlin
So you can understand if he was a bit annoyed when, towards the end of his speech in San Francisco’s Chinatown, pro-immigration activists started heckling.
“Mr. President, please use your executive order to halt deportations for all 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in this country right now!” one protester yelled. As Obama tried to respond, the shouting continued: “You have a power to stop deportation for all undocumented immigrants in this country!”
“Actually I don’t,” Obama replied. “And that’s why we’re here.”
“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
By Suzy Khimm
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 HUFFINGTON POST
By Sam Stein and Arthur Delaney
Top economic adviser Gene Sperling said in a statement to The Huffington Post there is “no question” that Congress should extend emergency unemployment insurance for the more than 1 million workers who could be affected when benefits expire between Christmas and the New Year.
“We have always done so when unemployment is this high and would make little sense to fail to do so now when we are still facing the burdens of the worst downturn since the Great Recession,” Sperling said. “It is high bang for the buck for the economy, reduces poverty and helps workers who lost jobs due to no fault of their own get back on their feet.”
THE WASHINGTON POST – OPINION
The economy is growing much more quickly than expected. Inflation is basically nonexistent. The federal budget deficit has been slashed dramatically. The stock market is reaching all-time highs. One of our long-running wars is over, and the other is winding down. The status of the United States as the world’s preeminent economic and military power is unchallenged.
The sour public attitude toward elected officials in general — and the Republican Party in particular — is understandable. Indeed, the wonder is that pollsters can findanyone beyond paid staffers who will express approval of Congress. And as for the White House, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act does not scream competence and efficiency.
By Alex Isenstadt
The 2014 midterm just got a lot more interesting.
The twin dramas of the government shutdown and botched rollout of Obamacare have snapped a sleepy 2014 election season out of its slumber, sharpening the battle lines for each party and setting the stage for a consequential midterm that few expected even two months ago.
The spring and summer months were filled with charges and countercharges about the Internal Revenue Service, wiretapping, Syria and immigration. Politicians recycled old attack lines and operatives confidently predicted control of Congress would remain status quo after next November.
No more. The parties’ competing political narratives — the dangers of a tea party-controlled party versus the perils of President Barack Obama’s far-reaching health care law — have been thrown into sharp relief the past several weeks. Now each party has something tangible to point to — that touch voters’ lives in concrete ways — to argue that the other should be booted from office.