Jonathan Cohn

Another Fiscal Conservative Calls Foul

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Conservative opponents of extending job benefits frequently say they are merely trying to be careful with taxpayer dollars--that they'd support an extension if only Democrats would agree to pay for it. Howard Gleckman, a strong fiscal conservative, calls foul over at TaxVox:

It is pretty clear the economy still cannot stand on its own feet, and nearly all analysts agree that unemployment benefits are a strong stimulus. Recipients generally spend the assistance ($300-a-week on average) immediately, which boosts the rest of the economy. It is hard to fight the humanitarian argument ... About 2.5 million will lose benefits if Congress does not extend aid by mid-July. Many of these folks are in serious distress. No job. No health insurance. And right now, no prospects. ...

I’d be more sympathetic with these new converts to fiscal responsibility if they were as enthusiastic about paying for extending $32 billion worth of special interest tax breaks as they are about funding the unemployment extension. If I understand correctly, these lawmakers insist that Congress fund every dime of added jobless aid, which nearly all analysts agree will help boost the economy. But they feel no need to pay for continuing these special interest tax breaks, which will not. They fret about unemployed workers who allegedly game the system to get jobless benefits but seem undisturbed by those businesses and individuals who do the same to maximize their tax subsidies. Politics is indeed a funny business.

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