Category Archives: Congress

The budget that wasn’t

The omnibus budget bill failed yesterday evening after enough GOP members bolted to scuttle the deal. The deal, which would have kept the government in operation through next summer was derided as being strewn with earmarks and wasteful spending.
It’s the kind of rhetoric that works these days, but that view is far too oversimplified. Earmarks Bad! is an easy political slogan, but not all earmarks are created equal.
So, who lost out yesterday? From the list of the assembled requests from the NC delegation coastal residents lost in a big way as did, military families, researchers, rural residents and struggling cities.
A breakdown of the projects to follow.

CBO: Unemployment benefits staved off record poverty

So, since as many people have pointed out we know that this is the most efficient way to pump dollars into the economy and since this new CBO study (pdf) states pretty flatly that unemployment insurance has kept a lot of families from falling into poverty, can we just have some shutting the hell up about how it needs to be offset? Get on with it and stop playing games.

From the director’s blog of the non-partisan number crunchers at the CBO:

CBO examined the role of UI benefits in supporting the income of families in which at least one person was unemployed at some point in 2009. The analysis addressed how that role varied with the amount of family income and the number of weeks of unemployment for all family members. CBO also examined how the poverty rate and related indicators of financial hardship would have differed in the absence of the UI program.

Major Findings of the study:

* Almost half of families in which at least one person was unemployed received income from UI in 2009. In 2009, the median contribution of UI benefits to the income of families that received those benefits was $6,000, accounting for 11 percent of their family income that year.
* Both the percentage of families receiving UI benefits and the median annual benefits received by those families over the course of the year were larger for families with more weeks of unemployment than for families with fewer weeks of unemployment.
* In 2009, about 14 percent of families had income below the federal poverty threshold; those families received about 8 percent of total UI benefits paid out during the year. In contrast, 67 percent of families in 2009 had income more than twice the poverty threshold; those families received about 70 percent of total UI benefits. The higher-income families received a larger share of benefits for several reasons: because only people with sufficient recent work histories qualify for benefits, benefit levels rise with previous earnings, and receiving benefits tends to push families into higher income groups.
* Without the financial support provided to families by UI benefits (and under an assumption of no change in employment or other sources of income associated with the absence of that support), the poverty rate and related indicators of financial hardship would have been higher in 2009 than they actually were. For instance, in 2009 the poverty rate was 14.3 percent, whereas without UI benefits and under the assumption mentioned, it would have been 15.4 percent.

So why all the posturing over something that makes so much sense. As some guy who won a Nobel in economics put it during one of the previous tussles over an extension:

The answer is that we’re facing a coalition of the heartless, the clueless and the confused.

Again.

Shuler falls a few votes short

Depending on how your politics run, Shuler’s attempt to unseat Nancy Pelosi was either a principled stand, an attempt to send a message or a vainglorious waste of time. Either way, it failed.
In the aftermath Steny says nice things about Shuler and the incoming Minority Leader sets the record straight on what the election was about. Via The Hill:

After her victory, Pelosi forcefully shot down the notion that, by remaining leader, she was ignoring a message for change from the voters.

“The message we received from the American people was that they want a job – they want jobs,” the Speaker said. “Nine-and-a-half percent unemployment is a very tough screen to get through with any other message.”

Wednesday Morning Post: Dead Heat edition

New PPP poll has the Senate race in a dead heat.

“The North Carolina Senate race continues to look very competitive, with Richard Burr’s approval numbers hitting a record low and Elaine Marshall pulling within 2 points. Burr’s at 39% to 37% for Marshall and 7% for Libertarian Michael Beitler.

The main thing that’s changed since the last poll, when Burr led by 5, is that Marshall is shoring up her support from within the party. 65% of Democrats say they’ll vote for her, up from 57% a month ago. Burr continues to lead because of a 44-25 advantage with independents and because with 73% Republican support his party is more unified around him than Marshall’s is around her.”

Marshall posts something on Kos about it.