Erza Klein sketches four possibilities. Number one:
In a few weeks, unemployment benefits will expire for 2 million Americans. An extension of the benefits commands majority support among Democrats, Republicans and independents. But most Hill observers think Congress will fail to act. It would be unconscionable, however, to let unemployment benefits expire even as the tax cuts for the rich are continued. If Republicans aren't willing to come to the table on unemployment benefits, Democrats shouldn't move on tax cuts for the wealthy. And if they're not willing to take that case to the public, what are they good for, exactly?
What's amazing to me is that the core argument of the GOP on taxes is that any sunsetting of tax cuts to those earning over $200,000/$250,000 would hurt demand and the economy. But I know of very few economists who don't think ending extension of unemployment benefits - which are far more likely to be spent - woudn't hit demand and growth more powerfully. You'd think the GOP were hoping to keep the economy from recovering faster (which would benefit Obama) while merely pandering to part of their own base. But they'd never be that cynical, would they?
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