One vote. That’s all more than 2 million Americans needed to have their unemployment benefits extended. One vote. That’s all that was needed to prevent the unprecedented action by Congress of failing to extend benefits when unemployment is anywhere near our current rate of 9.7%, the previous high being 7.2% in 1983. One vote
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had the votes of 57 Democrats, counting his own. He even had the votes of 2 Republicans, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. And in the post-January 20, 2009 climate of Washington, D.C. that is a major accomplishment. He needed one vote to get the sixty necessary to break the filibuster and pass the extension before the Senate recessed until July 12. One vote.
Unfortunately, not only for Senator Reid but more importantly for those 2+ million Americans, that one vote was, and is, in the possession of possibly the biggest damn fool ever to occupy space in the Senate chamber, Ben Nelson of Nebraska.
Nelson’s reasons for his opposition:
“Tough choices are possible and necessary to not add to the deficit,” Nelson said. “Some also say we need more emergency spending now to keep the recovery going. But in my view it could jeopardize the recovery and would add to our already enormous deficit, likely to be around $1.4 trillion for the second year in a row…. Congress should provide additional unemployment benefits but not as a bailout to the states that worsens the deficit and passes the bills onto our children.”
Do you know who’s making tough choices, you idiot? The long-term unemployed who now have to spend July 4th weekend wondering how, or if, they’ll be able to keep their house, or pay the rent, or keep the lights on. They’re not worried about passing bills on to their children; they’re worried about being able to feed their children.