GOP poised to kill tax-extenders bill

GOP POISED TO KILL TAX-EXTENDERS BILL…. For weeks, Senate Democrats have tried to pass what’s called the “tax-extenders bill” — a key economic package that extends unemployment benefits, maintains popular tax breaks, protects doctors from Medicare cuts, and boosts state aid to prevent massive job layoffs in the states. The country needs this bill to pass, but Republicans won’t let it come up for a vote.

In the hopes of finding a compromise, Dems have repeatedly scaled-back the measure, watering it down and removing worthwhile investments. The GOP has responded by insisting the reductions aren’t enough, and that they still won’t allow a vote.

It now appears Republicans are going to win this fight — and Americans will lose.

Democratic leaders in the Senate have apparently failed to win enough support to overcome a Republican filibuster of a bill to help the poor, the old and the jobless, despite making a series of cuts to the measure over the past several weeks to appease deficit hawks.

“It looks like we’re going to come up short,” said a senior Democratic aide on Wednesday evening. “It looks like Republicans are prepared to kill aid to states, an extension of unemployment benefits, and ironically, the Republicans are prepared to kill efforts to close loopholes that allow companies to export jobs overseas.” […]

“Sen. Baucus and Sen. Reid did everything they can to try to pick up the handful of votes needed to overcome the Republican filibuster” said the Dem aide. Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson has said repeatedly he would not vote for the measure unless its cost was completely offset, so Reid and Baucus focused on moderate Maine Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, who demanded more cuts to the bill if they were to break the unified GOP opposition.

For Snowe and Collins, nothing was good enough. Democrats appear to have lined up 58 votes, but in the Senate, 42 is greater than 58, even when our economic health is on the line.

In the real world, this means millions of jobless Americans will lose their already-modest benefits, and hundreds of thousands of workers will be laid off over the next year, including teachers, police officers, and firefighters. All of this will happen because Republicans are more concerned about the deficit — a deficit they created under Bush/Cheney — than the economy.

It’s unpleasant to think about, and I really hope it’s not true, but it may be time for a discussion about whether GOP lawmakers are trying to deliberately sabotage the economy to help their midterm election strategy. After all, these same Republicans have supported deficit-financed tax-extenders before — there’s no credible reason to change course now. On the contrary, with the economy struggling to break through, the need for this package is more obvious, not less, if your goal is to actually improve economic conditions.

The vote is expected today.