The Upside Down Priorities of Senate Republicans

Free tax cuts for the rich, no unemployment extension unless it’s paid for

Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ), the second ranking Republican in the Senate, said this week that tax cuts for the rich should never be offset to avert their impact on the federal budget deficit – but unemployment benefit extensions must be fully paid for in advance.

Kyl called unemployment benefits “a necessary evil” and “not an economic matter”, and he disputed the assessment by economists, supported by the Congressional Budget Office, that extending unemployment benefits is among the best forms of economic stimulus, a simple concept according to Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo:

The stimulus argument for extending emergency unemployment benefits during a recession is simple: If unemployed people lose benefits, then they stop spending money, which shrinks the economy, and costs more jobs. Extending the benefits forestalls that. Kyl says that, while there is a political and humanitarian benefit to giving constituents unemployment benefits, the government deficits they engender do more harm to the economy than systemic unemployment could.

Of course, if the Republican leadership in the Senate really cared about government deficits doing harm to the economy, they would do well to remember it’s Bush’s tax cuts for the rich – not $300 a week unemployment checks – that are the biggest threat:

Legacy of Bush policies drive deficits

So there we have it – the upside down economic priorities of Senate Republicans like our own Richard Burr: free tax cuts for the rich no matter the cost, but no “evil” unemployment insurance for the jobless unless paid for in full.

If Republicans take control of the Congress after the election in November, at least we’ll know what to expect from them: more of the same philosophy and leadership that got us into the mess we’re into in the first place.