Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Callous gamesmanship from NC Republicans continues

North Carolinians old enough to remember the National Lampoon and its iconic 1973 "if you don't buy this magazine; we'll kill this dog" cover are getting a chance to watch a real-life replay, involving Republicans holding long-term jobless benefits hostage to unrelated budget demands.

The News & Record reports,
No end appears in sight for a stalemate that's held hostage extended unemployment benefits for North Carolina's long-term jobless for nearly a month, state legislative leaders said today.

Senate leader Phil Berger, an Eden Republican, said the General Assembly's Republican leaders are waiting for Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue to propose a compromise.

Perdue vetoed the GOP proposal to extend the benefits only if the governor accepts double-digit cuts before budget negotiations begin in earnest. Perdue called the linkage "extortion." Republican leaders said they wanted to ease questions about continued state funding in case a budget deal isn't reached by the time the next fiscal year starts in July.

..."What I am telling people is the Senate and the House have passed a bill that extends those benefits. We think the question is: what has the governor done other than say, 'Do it my way. That's the only way that I'll accept.'" Berger said. "I would hope that either the governor would modify her position or tell us what it would take to modify her position."
In other words, "Governor, if the budget isn't an acceptable ransom for jobless benefits, what is?"

The appropriate response is "nothing."

The extension of unemployment benefits has nothing whatsoever to do with North Carolina's budget situation. Extended benefits require a minor legislative fix so that federal dollars--approximately $11 million per week--can be spent to help 37,000 long-term unemployed.

The National Lampoon magazine cover was ridiculous but ultimately harmless satire. The Republican gamesmanship is equally ridiculous but ultimately harmful and cruel.