White House blows up unemployment compromise
3:34 PM 01/06/2014
White House officials Monday tried to blow up a nascent political compromise over a one-year, $25 billion extension of unemployment insurance.
The dramatic move came only a few hours before a close Senate vote, and amid a White House strategy to divert media and public attention from the imploding Obamacare program.
“We have an emergency right now. … The president believes we should pass this right away, no strings attached,” White House economic chief Gene Sperling said, while rejecting GOP calls for a compromise over the extension of unemployment benefits for people who have been unemployed for more than six months in Obama’s economy. (ANALYSIS: Obama’s 2014 strategy — my economy sucks)
GOP leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner, have repeatedly said they’d be willing to extend unemployment benefits if Democrats identified offsetting budget cuts or economy-boosting regulatory changes. GOP leaders want to minimize other political battles to focus voters’ attention on the Obamacare crash.
Sperling also tried to torpedo talk of a one-year compromise, and instead called for a three-month deal that would deliver another high-profile fight in early April, when Obamacare’s problems are expected to become even more dramatic.
Obamacare’s failure has deeply damaged Obama’s poll ratings, and may prompt voters in November to elect a GOP majority in the Senate.
Sperling also suggested that a single U.S. senator’s cooperation with Democratic leaders counts as a bipartisan compromise.
Congress should immediately pass legislation drafted by Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and freshman Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, Sperling said. “The compromise that is inherent in the Heller/Reed legislation is ‘Let’s move quickly and pass this three-month legislation now,’” Sperling said.