Stabenow: Republicans ‘want this economy to fail’

STABENOW: REPUBLICANS ‘WANT THIS ECONOMY TO FAIL’…. With Senate Republicans poised to kill the tax-extenders/jobs bill today — it has 58 supporters, who will be denied a chance to vote, up or down, on the legislation — Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) participated in a conference call this afternoon, and was understandably outraged by the GOP tactics.

“It is very clear that the Republicans in the Senate want this economy to fail. They see that things are beginning to turn around…. In cynical political terms, it doesn’t serve them in terms of their election interests if things are beginning to turn around.”

She added that she’s “outraged about what has been happening,” and described the likely defeat today as “extremely serious.”

Of particular interest, Stabenow said Senate Republicans are “counting on the fact that no one knows what’s going on here.”

That’s clearly true — if the public realized the consequences of a successful GOP filibuster of this bill, I suspect there’d be quite a backlash.

But in some ways, that’s the pernicious beauty of the cynicism, at least as far as Republicans are concerned — they deny the Senate a chance to vote, the bill dies, the economy gets worse, and Democrats get blamed because they’re in the majority. Americans suffer, but for the GOP, that’s a small price to pay for a bump in the polls. Public confusion, coupled with inadequate media coverage, will mean rewards for those who were wrong, and punishment for those who were right.

I’m delighted this is starting to generate some real attention today — alas, it’s probably too late, unless voters in Maine and Massachusetts start calling Sens. Snowe, Collins, and Brown in huge numbers — but I still don’t think folks fully appreciate the consequences of failure here. As of tomorrow, 1.2 million jobless Americans will lose unemployment benefits. That number will grow by hundreds of thousands next week, and the week after, and the week after that. That’s not only devastating for those immediately affected families, but it undermines the economy — unemployment benefits tend to get spent, which makes them stimulative.

As a result of this bill dying, at least 200,000 jobs will be lost on just the measures in this bill related to Medicaid. The overall number is likely closer to 900,000 job losses. In a fragile economy, with a weak job market, it’s unconscionable that 41 Senate Republicans and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) have the capacity to save those jobs, and chose not to act — indeed, they choose not to even let the Senate vote.

Republicans continue to insist that the country simply can’t afford this legislation, but it’s already been scaled back so severely, the entire thing is paid for except for the unemployment benefits, which not only constitute emergency spending, but generally have been considered emergency spending by Congresses run by both parties.

This is nothing short of crazy. I’ve been watching this for weeks, and part of me still can’t believe it’s actually happening.

WonkRoom, Suzy Khimm, Ezra Klein, Joan McCarter, and Annie Lowrey have pieces on this that are worth checking out.