Did Boehner just pull a bait-and-switch on the Senate?

posted at 2:01 pm on March 21, 2014 by Dustin Siggins

Last week, Speaker Boehner said the bipartisan unemployment bill in the Senate would not be able to pass the House. Like many Hot Air readers, I was unconvinced:

Unfortunately, Boehner’s resistance may not be enough, if the Senate passes the bill. In an election year, with the word “compromise” being thrown around because Democrats are “only” applying the benefits until May, and Republicans already being viewed as the party of the rich, short-term political survival may win the day.

However, now Boehner is increasing his resistance, saying he has evidence that the Senate’s bill would be structurally unworkable:

But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said the bill has no chance in his chamber in the wake of a letter he received from National Association of State Work Force Agencies, which says the requirements of the Senate bill would, “cause considerable delays in the implementation of the program and increased administrative issues and costs.”

As a result, the letter says, some states have indicated the changes to the program are not feasible so they will not work with the Labor Department to implement the program.

The association says implementation could take one to three months, and cite chief obstacles such as aging computer systems, how states should pay for the administrative burden of determining eligibility for the program, implementing the means testing necessary to weed out wealthier recipients of aid, and quickly clearing a backlog of claims to late December, when the program expired.

Timothy Noah of MSNBC noticed something odd about these complaints:

Boehner says he won’t support extending unemployment insurance because – get this – he’s hearing from state officials that the “reforms” are too difficult and expensive to implement. The changes that Boehner’s own party asked for as a condition of their support have made the bill “simply unworkable.” Indeed, he says, these “reforms” would actually result in more fraud and abuse, not less.

So let’s jettison the “reforms” and pass a clean extension bill, right?

Nope. Because…unemployment benefits need to be reformed.

Noah was being sarcastic about reforming unemployment benefits — abrasively so, if you read the entire piece — but he raises a good point. Eligibility, means-testing, and the backlog were all caused by Republican stubbornness on employment benefits. And while this would normally be public relations disaster for Republicans, Boehner has turned it into a three-part victory.

Consider: Whether on purpose or by accident, whether in cahoots with his Republican brethren in the Senate or not, Boehner has managed to undercut the compromise deal in the Senate while looking entirely reasonable. And right after doing that, he urged the Senate to pass the House’s jobs bills.

In an election year, many Republicans want to simply maintain the status quo to get past November. However, many conservatives want good policy implemented. By pulling the rug out from under Senate Democrats in this way, it looks like Boehner has managed to please both camps in one fell sweep: stopping higher spending and higher taxes, promoting legislation that would enhance job growth, and doing so in a politically savvy fashion.

Well played, Speaker Boehner. Well played.

 

 

 


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In an election year, many Republicans want to simply maintain the status quo to get past November.

And after November they’ll want to simply maintain the status quo to get past the next November, and in 2016 they’ll want to simply maintain the status quo…

rrpjr on March 21, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Boner decides he doesn’t like being threatened in a primary so he’s doing his job. Funny how that works…

katy on March 21, 2014 at 2:10 PM

If only he could use his powers for good.

Ukiah on March 21, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Well played, Speaker Boehner. Well played.

Did he cry?

BacaDog on March 21, 2014 at 2:13 PM

A desperate man sometimes does the right thing. But Boehner is no man of principle.

22044 on March 21, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Friday palate cleanser:

How not to cross a mud hole

BobMbx on March 21, 2014 at 2:17 PM

Sure, the “status quo” is simply terrible when it’s helping hordes of Americans who are staring financial ruin in the face. By the time a ridiculously titled “jobs” bill creates a job that a wanna-be-working American can actually fill, their kids will have to apply for it.

Well played? Are you kidding?

That’s the test these days? Who can out-politic the other party in a board game loosely called Congress? No wonder the approval rating for that group is approaching zero.

What a party this R beast is. When it finally decides to take a fiscal stand in the face of the Obama debt and spending spree, they do it on the backs of the chronically unemployed. Brilliant.

IndieDogg on March 21, 2014 at 2:22 PM

When it finally decides to take a fiscal stand in the face of the Obama debt and spending spree, they do it on the backs of the chronically unemployed. Brilliant.

IndieDogg on March 21, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Eligibility and means testing are reasonable reforms to a system filled with welfare cheats. Same goes for food stamps, Obamaphones, and every other “freebie” that the parasites of this country see as a right. I’m sick and tired of all the moochers who whine and complain.

Happy Nomad on March 21, 2014 at 2:29 PM

What a party this R beast is. When it finally decides to take a fiscal stand in the face of the Obama debt and spending spree, they do it on the backs of the chronically unemployed. Brilliant.

IndieDogg on March 21, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Yup, makes it very difficult to truth them, either the economy really is as bad as they claim it is, or it isn’t. If it really is as bad as they claim, then passing a unemployment extension should be a no brainer. If it isn’t, and it’s actually good like Obama claims, then denying a unemployment extension makes perfect sense.

So, which is it? Is the economy really bad, or is it really good?

oscarwilde on March 21, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Well played, Speaker Boehner. Well played.

Rubbish. The states don’t want more unemployment expenses. That’s the only reason Boehner is opposed. If you’re a special interest, you get what you want, almost always. The senate is just posturing.

rickv404 on March 21, 2014 at 2:31 PM

…I don’t believe any of it!

KOOLAID2 on March 21, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Well played, Speaker Boehner. Well played.

Agreed..:)

Dire Straits on March 21, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Probably part of the strategery to let the Senate go first on legislation – so Harry Reid couldn’t let House legislation just die in the Senate.

monalisa on March 21, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Boehner is RINO who gets down on his knees in the presence of the Unicorn God!

(Darn, “Unicorn God” is probably a little too gay for the true conservatives I am mocking.)

thuja on March 21, 2014 at 2:51 PM

If it really is as bad as they claim, then passing a unemployment extension should be a no brainer. If it isn’t, and it’s actually good like Obama claims, then denying a unemployment extension makes perfect sense.

oscarwilde on March 21, 2014 at 2:30 PM

I don’t agree. If the economy is so broken, and life so hard, that the government needs to cut people a check so that they can keep eating, we should call that what it really is: welfare. Unemployment insurance is for covering hops from job to job. The period it’s paid over should be measured in months, not years, and the length of time it’s paid shouldn’t be related to any economic snapshot.

Or all this crap happens.

Axe on March 21, 2014 at 2:55 PM

Axe on March 21, 2014 at 2:55 PM

+100..*tip fedora*..:)

PS..Happy TGIF..:)

Dire Straits on March 21, 2014 at 2:59 PM

+100..*tip fedora*..:)

PS..Happy TGIF..:)

Dire Straits on March 21, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Sir. :)

Axe on March 21, 2014 at 3:14 PM

thuja on March 21, 2014 at 2:51 PM

I’m a tad surprised at you. That has to be the lamest “snark” I’ve ever read. You can do better and everyone knows that unicorns are the sole province of The Won.

Cindy Munford on March 21, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Unemployment insurance was originally conceived as insurance whose premiums were paid by the employer to a state fund or to a private insurer (depending on your state).

The insurance paid out when someone proved they were unemployed through no fault of their own and continued to be paid only when a worker could prove he was actively trying to find work.
When the maximum benefit was paid out, the insurance checks stopped, just like any other insurance policy.

Anything paid outside of or beyond that insurance policy (and they were true insurance policies- each industry paid premiums based on their historical employment history) is welfare.

If you want to give people welfare, call it welfare. Or maybe “transitional living expenses”, “pet food assistance grants” or “unicorn benefits”.

But not insurance.

Pless1foEngrish on March 21, 2014 at 3:19 PM

That’s the test these days? Who can out-politic the other party in a board game loosely called Congress? No wonder the approval rating for that group is approaching zero.

What a party this R beast is. When it finally decides to take a fiscal stand in the face of the Obama debt and spending spree, they do it on the backs of the chronically unemployed. Brilliant.

IndieDogg on March 21, 2014 at 2:22 PM

That’s exactly it. They play games and make deals. They aren’t results oriented and what they do isn’t for our benefit.

crankyoldlady on March 21, 2014 at 3:23 PM

How many times and for what amount of time have they given extensions? Something like 96 weeks?

Cindy Munford on March 21, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Its funny how no one seems to notice how much political fighting is conducted to provide government unemployment benefits to people the government doesn’t consider as unemployed anymore.

Weird, eh?

BobMbx on March 21, 2014 at 3:39 PM

Ah, Dustin, you won’t get far around here giving Boehner credit for anything – despite the fact he has done far more for the conservative cause in his career than his critics, who mainly just sit on their rumps and complain.

Adjoran on March 21, 2014 at 3:51 PM

Mm mm That Boehner gives this gal the chills.

B.A. Moderate on March 21, 2014 at 4:05 PM

I took two weeks of unemployment decades ago after being laid off the day after Christmas. We now have people simply deciding not to work until they find something worthy. As the Black man waiting for his check once said, “I don’t want me no job, maybe a career?”

I work a job I can’t stand, we barely get by with two of us working…the work is available.

Hening on March 21, 2014 at 4:06 PM

Repubs should pass the bill. We have an Administration and Democrat led Senate that have destroyed the economy and that panders only to the very rich 1%, government workers and unions. And yet the perception pushed by the drive by media is that it is the Repubs that are pandering to the rich (some establishment RINO’s yes).

The idea that the place to take stand on budget issue is with unemployment extensions is idiotic. Repubs talk about budget deficits when 80% of the county is worried about their next paycheck. You folks pushing the Repubs not to pass this are just giving up seats in the House and the Senate to left wing Dems.

georgealbert on March 21, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Friday palate cleanser:

How not to cross a mud hole

BobMbx on March 21, 2014 at 2:17 PM

.
That’s a pants-wetter right there… she was squealing as she wallowed, so I guess she enjoyed it!

ExpressoBold on March 21, 2014 at 4:26 PM

It’s more likely that the changes were made in conference to try to please both the Dems and the RINOs, at which point the state bureaus (who are always the last to know) finally got a look at it, said “WTF?” and told the mandarins on the Hill that it wouldn’t work in the real world.

Whereupon said mandarins realized that once more, they had done what they usually do; constructed a perfect idealized template that bore no relation to reality.

Boehner then came up with a face-saving out, mainly to save his own skin. Very likely suggested to him by… Ohio Governor (and ex- U.S. representative) John Kasich. (He’s no Einstein, nor is he an actual conservative, but he’s still smarter than Boner. Of course, so is algae.)

Never assume Bonehead actually knows WTF he’s doing. We Buckeyes stopped believing he was capable of that a long time ago.

The only thing that surprised most of us more than his constituents re-electing hm was the GOP making him Speaker. Based on that, we concluded that Douglas Adams was correct when he said that nothing could make someone a “great leader” faster than irreversible brain damage.

It seems to be epidemic in Foggy Bottom these days.

clear ether

eon

eon on March 21, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Even a blind pig stumbles across an ear of corn once in awhile.
And so it is, with the S of the H.

orangemtl on March 21, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Once again, Boehner proves that his intelligence vastly exceeds that of any Teahadi, to the point that there’s really no point in comparing them. He’s also tougher, better connected, more popular, and more moral than you.

BrianJ on March 21, 2014 at 5:34 PM

How many times and for what amount of time have they given extensions? Something like 96 weeks?

Cindy Munford on March 21, 2014 at 3:30 PM

That may have been possible at one time, during the height of the recession. But those losing their benefits now have only been collecting for 26 weeks for the most part.

The extensions are not permanent or additive. Whatever is in effect when your initial claim ends, is what you get. In this case it’s nothing.

There were times in the past when 6% unemployment was enough to trigger federal extensions. But now, with the Obameconmy being considered the “new normal”, people are balking at granting extensions with unemployment being over 6.5% in many states.

Oxymoron on March 21, 2014 at 5:35 PM

The national unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in February

Oxymoron on March 21, 2014 at 5:37 PM

Eligibility and means testing are reasonable reforms to a system filled with welfare cheats. Same goes for food stamps, Obamaphones, and every other “freebie” that the parasites of this country see as a right. I’m sick and tired of all the moochers who whine and complain.

Happy Nomad on March 21, 2014 at 2:29 PM

For Unemployment benefits means testing is not a conservative position. Any more than not giving rich people Social Security is. Of course taking money from one person and handing it to another person is not conservative to begin with. But if it is being done, then under the auspices of “insurance” there can be no means testing. They paid the “premiums” just like everyone else did for coverage. In fact, I would bet they pay a huge amount more than others and all unemployment benefits are top limited at a rather modest amount.

Unemployment “insurance” should should be ended completely at the federal level and in as many states as possible. If employees want it or employers want to offer it as an incentive awesome. But it is part of the wealth creation of the employee that is getting taken and is nearly completely invisible tax on the employee. They never see the bill that their employer paid for it, but certainly would have had better negotiation in getting better pay if it did not exist.

astonerii on March 21, 2014 at 9:00 PM

I’d like to give Speaker Boehner a shiny bright ‘Good Work’ sticker on his report card, but considering his record of strategic and tactical errors in the past few years I am not convinced this situation is due to his adroit political mechanizations.

I suspect this belongs on the ‘Oops’ side of the ledger. It may turn out to be a smart move politically, but I am forced to consider that it is perhaps the result of serendipity rather than ingenuity.

s1im on March 23, 2014 at 10:17 AM