Usually having the Speaker of the House calling your state home is good for the state. Since Ohio leads the nation in job losses, you’d think Speaker Boehner would be doing something constructive. After all, Governor John Kasich (R-OH) is up for reelection and the economy in Ohio is an issue. You would also think Boehner would want to ease the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Ohio voters. I mean people. After all he wouldn’t play politics with the citizens of Ohio.
You would be wrong.
As the President and congressional Democrats fight to extend long-term unemployment insurance (IU) benefits, Ohio Republicans are throwing up road blocks.
Ohio Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) broke ranks in the Senate to vote for cloture of the GOP-led filibuster of a bill in the Senate to extend unemployment benefits. But then he turned around and demanded offsets to fund the bill. He claims it’s a budget buster. He wants to fund it by killing so-called double dipping by those receiving disability and unemployment. Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid is not a fan and the bill for a three month extension should pass along a party line vote.
The House is a different story. Speaker Boehner wants the three month extension paid for, and be tied to, job creation policies. That is usually code for another tax cut for the wealthy and regulatory gutting for dirty industries.
The big question is: does he have control of his caucus? Will the Tea Party Anarchists block an extension without major policy riders attached? Policy that is DOA in the Senate? Will they try to tie ACA to an extension by citing it as a job killer? Or will they simply oppose because it’s a paid vacation for dopers and lazy people who would rather get $200 a week than work for enough money to live on.
Even Senator Portman, as he talked of some reform to better match jobs with the jobless noted there were 100,000 jobs and 400,000 Ohioans out of work. I don’t think he meant to highlight there are four job seekers for every job. What better time to throw the long term unemployed under the bus?
When former President George W. Bush signed the UI extension into law, the unemployment rate was around 5.6 %. Shutting that program when unemployment is still at 7 % is unprecedented. It’s even higher in Ohio. This puts many at risk of losing everything they have spent a lifetime working for.
You want reform? OK. How about forbidding discrimination against the unemployed? Many companies will not hire someone without a job, preferring to get people to simply move to another job. There are staffing agencies that have been told not to send the unemployed for interviews. The tax breaks for hiring the long term unemployed don’t seem to be helping.
As it stands, we have a weak Speaker from Ohio and a GOP-led House who blame the jobless for being unemployed. Many say that UI creates dependency and sloth. In an atmosphere like that you won’t see much incentive to act in a fair and reasonable manner.
The worst case scenario is the House kills it with a Tea Party caucus high jacking like they did in October. The best case is sane House Republicans and House Democrats act in the best interest of the unemployed. It’s likely too much to ask Boehner to remember he holds a seat from Ohio and should do the right thing. And that is a shame.
This cannot be helpful to the Ohio Republican officeholders as they go into the Mid Terms. Kasich ran on saving Ohio. If the jobless rate stays high and people are losing everything as their 26 week unemployment runs out with no extensions I would expect some backlash that could help the Democrats. I would rather see the House do the right thing without the political theater.
Mister Speaker, just do the right thing, for a change.