Alex's Outlook

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Fiscal sanity beginning to prevail in DC? 

Today the Senate rejected extending unemployment benefits, which cost the government $85 billion last year.

WASHINGTON - A Senate measure to extend federal unemployment benefits failed by two votes Thursday despite the election year support of 12 Republicans from states hit hard by layoffs.

Democrats tried to attach the amendment to a gun liability bill, but it failed 58-39 in the GOP-controlled Senate.

The measure would have extended the emergency benefits program for six months, providing 13 weeks of extra unemployment benefits to people who exhaust their state benefits ? usually after 26 weeks.

It might seem annoying that twelve Republican senators bolted on this, but I'm sure it was orchestrated beforehand. The vast majority of votes are pre-ordained, and "close" votes are usually just about giving as many senators/reps in the winning party political cover. Eg, Elizabeth Dole wants the bill to fail, so she confers with Bill Frist. Frist tells her he has the votes needed to terminate the measure, so Dole can vote whatever way would be more politically advantageous--against Frist if she wants to showcase "independence" and "pragmatism," or for Frist if she wants to bolster her street cred with the base.

Unfortunately, some safe Republican senators voted for the bill unnecessarily. They include George Voinovich of Ohio (Remember George? He was the guy who halved the 2003 tax cut in the name of budgetary sanity, but now wants more unemployment benefits and $375 billion in highway $$$). Kit Bond of Missouri, Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter and John McCain of Arizona also went over to the dark side. We already knew McCain and Specter were RINOs. Voinovich and Bond are fairly new to the pork-barrel-GOP scene, and would be good targets for the Club for Growth to knock off in their respective election cycles...

Speaking of elections, if you are interested in giving money to influence the 2004 elections, you couldn't do better than sending it to the Club for Growth. The Club is the most powerful free-market interest group within the GOP; you can think of it as the NRA of tax cuts and smaller government, although it doesn't have nearly as much muscle as the NRA does (yet). The Republican Party will not be forced to embrace free markets and smaller gov't for real until laissez-faire conservatives can build a powerful political organization of their own, much as the NRA has done with the Republicans and the pro-choice lobby with the Democrats.


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