Morning Action: Obama to Speak, Again
Unemployment. According to an unnamed White House official, President Obama will discuss unemployment benefits after the Senate votes at 10:00 am this morning. Politico’s Morning Money passes along the note:
[A]t 11:40AM, the President will host an event in the East Room of the White House where he will urge Congress to act promptly and in a bipartisan fashion to extend emergency unemployment insurance. The President will talk about the toll that allowing these benefits to expire has had on 1.3 million Americans, and he’ll warn of the negative consequences for the broader economy if Congress fails to act … The President will be joined at the event by Americans whose unemployment insurance has expired.
Key Vote. Yesterday, Heritage Action announced it would key vote against the Senate’s proposed 3-month extension of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program. Merely “offsetting” the cost of the extension does not make 73 weeks of unemployment benefits fiscally responsible or wise:
Finally, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the 3-month proposal would cost taxpayers $6.555 billion. Taxpayers not cannot afford tens of billions in new spending (a full one-year extension would cost upwards of $25 billion), and even if lawmakers attempt to offset this new spending with real cuts elsewhere, they would still be throwing taxpayer money at an ineffective and wasteful program.
Progressive Failure. As President Obama and his political allies seek to turn the unemployment benefits debate into a broader political narrative about income inequality, National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar suggests progressives are flunking their own test:
Yet, those railing against economic inequality are doing very little to offer an educational pathway for children to rise out of poverty. De Blasio has declared war against charter schools in New York City, proposing to stunt their growth in the city by threatening to stop offering them free rent. More brazenly, the Obama Justice Department filed a lawsuit against a Louisiana program designed to allow poor students to pick alternatives to their failing public schools. It’s on par with the administration’s hostility to school choice: One of the first moves the Obama administration made was trying to shut down the popular D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, providing vouchers to city students to attend private schools.
Federal Reserve. Last night, the Senate voted to confirm Janet Yellen as the next chair of the Federal Reserve. The LA Times reports “will take over a once low-profile institution that has become a polarizing force in Washington’s ongoing political warfare, even as it has evolved into the world’s most important and influential central bank.”
The conservative group Heritage Action for America called on senators to oppose her confirmation and said it would include the vote in its annual legislative score card of key congressional decisions.
“Her historically weak support highlights the growing concern over the Federal Reserve’s expanded authority and aggressive use of monetary policy,” the group said.
Omnibus. Lurking in the shadows is a $1 trillion spending bill, commonly referred to as an omnibus. CQ (sub. req’d) reports backroom negotiations are reportedly making progress, but serious hurdles remain:
Mikulski noted that three of those bills will be particularly heavy lifts in the days ahead: Labor-HHS-Education, Interior-Environment and Defense. The Senate chairwoman said the 2010 health care overhaul (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) continues to be a major sticking point in House-Senate negotiations, as does abortion.
“I think if something begins with an ‘A’ it’s a sticking point, and I’m trying to get to the ‘Z’s,” Mikulski quipped. “Obamacare is a sticking point, abortion is always a sticking point [with] every negotiation and there are some other funding issues that we’ve got wrinkles to iron out on.”