The latest unfunded unemployment-benefits extension has not yet passed the Senate (though the replacement of Sen. Robert Byrd with another Democrat has cleared the way for that to happen today); nevertheless, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs is already telling us the administration plans to push for another extension in November:
… Gibbs defended the president’s approach, calling unemployment benefits “emergency spending” at a time when the unemployment rate is 9.5 percent. Asked whether that same mindset would hold true at the end of November, when the soon-to-be-passed round of unemployment benefits expire, Gibbs replied:
“I think it is fair and safe to assume that we are not going to wake up and find ourselves at the end of November at a rate of employment one would not consider to be an emergency.”
Flashback to just before Memorial Day, when the House was debating its version of the legislation: A handful of Democrats from the Blue Dog coalition initially balked at the cost of the bill, so Pelosi scaled back the unemployment-benefits extension by one month in order to make the price tag look smaller. We know the Blue Dogs always cave when it matters, but their acquiescence in the scale-back charade set a new standard for caving. Gibbs’s comments verify what conservatives said at the time: Pulling back the expiration date on these bills doesn’t actually reduce their price tags. It merely reduces the time that passes between one stimulus and the next.