Shameful GOP Ad Blames Democrats for Scarce Jobless Aid

>American Crossroads, the Karl Rove-supported conservative campaign group, has run a handful of ads targeting Nevada Sen. Harry Reid for hanging his state out to dry. Even with the nation's highest unemployment rate, Nevada received less stimulus money that every other state but one, the ad says.


The ad is factually accurate. It's also an embarrassment. Republicans have spent the last three months blocking a Sen. Reid-endorsed extension to unemployment insurance that would particularly help Nevada, since federal UI contributions are tied to state unemployment rate. They're blocking Democrats' jobless aid in Washington and blaming Sen. Reid for not spending more on joblessness in Reno. More generally, the basic Republican position on the stimulus has been, for the past year I recall, that the stimulus was bad. Here's Karl Rove himself mocking the president for defending it. "The stimulus didn't work, and we deserved more of it" is a sad, cynical, and utterly predictable argument.

Now, American Crossroads' anguish about Nevada's small share of the stimulus isn't all crocodile tears. Since the Recovery Act turned out to be more a state-rescue plan than a jobs and infrastructure creation plan, larger states benefited. Nevada has a lean state government, but stimulus money went disproportionately to states with larger public sectors and higher Medicaid bills. If the Recovery Act's funds were more in line with district unemployment, Las Vegas and Reno -- the first and third worst-hit metro areas between 2007 and 2009 -- should be drowning in stimulus. Instead they're drowning in plot vacancies and joblessness.

If you're making an argument that stimulus should be tied to unemployment, you're making a clear-cut argument for more unemployment help. On the other hand, if you're making an argument that jobless aid is bad for the deficits and discourages work, you're making an argument to block stimulus at every turn. You cannot have it both ways.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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