The Senate is expected today to approve another extension to unemployment benefits, and it’s a true Washington compromise: Democrats and Republicans each get some of what they want, and taxpayers get the bill.
Benefits will now run through November, at an additional cost of $34 billion. Democrats wanted a larger bill with other goodies, totaling $120 billion; Republicans wanted only to extend the jobless benefits, and to pay for it with unspent stimulus money or by canceling other expenditures.
Instead, we get the $34 billion bill, but no canceled spending elsewhere.
Democrats will claim victory over GOP “obstructionism.” Republicans may try to promote the fact that they at least prevented Dems from spending almost $90 billion of borrowed money, which is nearly one-tenth of a $1 trillion deficit.
But the award for chutzpah goes to Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, who told the New York Times, “To govern is to choose, and this is a clear choice: You either support extending benefits for people who are out of work or you don’t.”
He got the first bit right. To govern is indeed to choose — and in this case that means choosing to extend jobless benefits by cutting elsewhere, or to spend here, there and everywhere and keep running up the deficit. That’s been the key point on this issue all along, and on spending the only choice Congress wants to make is “all of the above.”
That’s not governing.