I was not expecting the budget deal to include extending unemployment benefits, so I was not surprised when it didn’t.
Individual pain aside, that will greatly undermine if not completely cancel the stimulative effect of the deal. It will also represent something of an official surrender by the federal government on unemployment, since the long-term unemployed are increasingly who we are talking about (short-term unemployment is now lower than it was in 2007).
The cost of another year of extended UI was estimated at about $25 billion—not much more than the symbolic money thrown at deficit reduction in the deal. That will bug a lot of congressional Democrats, as it should.
But not enough to get them to actually do anything about it.
I know how negotiations work and I know that compromise means that someone is going to get the short end of the deal. It’s always the people who have no power, which is why they get the short end of the deal: if they had any power…. you know the drill.
The maddening part of this reality is that both Democrats and Republicans all talk as if they actually give a shit about the unempowered unemployed. It’s a toss-up between the Galtian bootstrapism of the Republicans — hey, if you won’t work, you shouldn’t eat — and the synthetic sympathy of Democrats who wring their hands, say they’re really like to help, but don’t actually take it to the wall. They’re both saying the same thing.