Yes, Democrats are intentionally herding the media down various rabbit holes to distract from less pleasant matters like this -- but I'll (briefly) take the bait anyway. This quote was just too juicy to pass up:
Pres Obama says extending unemployment insurance "actually helps the economy, actually creates new jobs.”— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) January 7, 2014
This assertion is redolent of Nancy Pelosi's insistence that Obamacare would create "millions of jobs." And the administration's assurances that the failed $850 million stimulus would perform all sorts of economic miracles. And the Agriculture Secretary's statement that food stamps are a powerful job creator. Democrats routinely claim that government programs must be enacted, sustained and expanded for the sake of economic stimulus. They repeat this mantra with religious zeal, which explains why empirical evidence is always subservient to their ideological passions. Lefties are now shouting about how mean-spirited Republicans hate the unemployed or whatever because they're refusing to rubber-stamp President Obama's preferred extension of unemployment benefits. Many Republicans are simply demanding that these additional billions be paid for. Democrats -- erstwhile champions of "pay as you go" budgeting -- say this is cruel and and unprecedented. Congress has "never offset emergency spending," Harry Reid said yesterday. CNN fact-checked his statement, and found it wanting. And why are Democrats still talking about an economic "emergency"? President Obama's been in office since 2009 and the administration likes to tout the grand recovery that's underway. How is it that five years into "recovery," the nation's unemployment "emergency" is still so acute that it necessitates unpaid-for, deficit-increasing measures? Then there are the substantive policy critiques of endlessly extending unemployment "insurance." Conservatives cite reams of economic evidence demonstrating that overly generous unemployment benefits undermine job creation and offer perverse incentives against seeking work. Michelle Malkin points out that even left-wing economist Paul Krugman has conceded this basic finding. Mediaite's Noah Rothman cites another interesting source on the matter. Pop quiz -- Who wrote the following?
Unemployment insurance also extends the time a person stays off the job. Clark and I estimated that the existence of unemployment insurance almost doubles the number of unemployment spells lasting more than three months. If unemployment insurance were eliminated, the unemployment rate would drop by more than half a percentage point, which means that the number of unemployed people would fall by about 750,000
That would be former top economic adviser to President Obama, Larry Summers. His paper also mentioned "unionization" as "another cause of long-term unemployment." Did Obama ever listen to this man? The truth is that Obama and many Democrats don't actually care about the real-world impact of their policy demands. They don't care about incentives. They don't care about studies. They don't care about pay-fors. They care about accruing political benefit from attacking Republicans as nasty grinches. The emerging GOP position on this issue is that they'll agree to another extension if Democrats agree to spending offsets and include measures that would actually help create jobs. Democrats say this approach is unconscionably cruel, or something. Unleash the speech machine:
Obama is giving a speech. This. Changes. Everything.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) January 7, 2014
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography