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Monday, November 29, 2010

Newly Appointed Senator Mark Kirk Believes Extending Jobless Benefits is "Misguided"

Mark KirkImage via Wikipedia
Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) is on both
sides of hugely confusing fences
on unemployment extensions and,
extending Bush Era Tax Cuts
With one less vote in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has an uphill battle to extend unemployment benefits for up to 2 Million unemployed Americans and another estimated 6 Million plus, 99ers; if newly appointed Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) has his way.

Senator Kirk appeared MSNBC's Morning Joe program on November 29th, stating that he believes extending unemployment benefits without offsetting the cost are "misguided"; while extending the Bush Era Tax Cuts to the wealthiest Americans need to be done no matter what.

"We should extend the Bush tax cuts and make sure we don’t have a double-dip recession. And I have the honor to be the first of ninety-five new Republicans, fiscal conservatives, to help right our ship of state", Kirk stated to host Joe Scarborough question on the Bush Era Tax Cuts.

When asked about the extending unemployment benefits by Scarborough, Senator Kirk seem to want to be on both sides of the fence in his tempered response.

"You could extend it if you found a way to pay for it. And I voted for that in the past. But these proposals to extend unemployment insurance by just adding it to the deficit are misguided", Kirk stated.

Video-Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL)on MSNBC's Morning Joe, treading on both sides of the fence

In the Senate, the bill to extend jobless benefits for the 99ers (unemployed job seekers who exhausted supplemental income compensation between 73-99 weeks) "S.3706-The Americans Want to Work Act" has been frozen since a September 28th single filibuster by lame-duck Senator George Lemieux (R-FL). 

The legislation, if passed by the Senate, House and received President Obama signature, would have added 20 weeks of unemployment compensation and provided up to a $2000 Tax Credit for employers to hire the long-term jobless. Originally sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is it growing more unlikely that the bill will ever make it out of the Senate Finance Committee, where the legislation current resides.

With appointed Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) statements, another scenario rearing for America's unemployed job seekers. If the House manages to pass "HR-6419-The Unemployment Compensation Continuation Act" before the Congressional Lame Duck session ends on December 15th, the question remains on if Democrats in the Senate have enough votes to overcome Republican opposition.

Results following the November 3rd elections, concluded with Senator Harry Reid and Democrats holding a 59 seat majority in the chamber. 

For unemployment job seekers, the Democrats would need at least two Republican Senators to cross over party lines to beat any GOP filibuster to move any measure to President Barack Obama's desk, for signature.

During the late spring/early summer,  the last debate over extending the current Federal unemployment extension law, "HR-4213, The Unemployment Compensation Act of 2010" lasted seven weeks. Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) finally managed to gain the votes of moderates Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins (R's-ME), after composing on axing the additional $25 weekly payment to claimants, provided in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Both of those same cross-over votes might not be so easy to gain this time around. On November 18th, Senator Snowe told reporters that while she continued to support extensions and perhaps even an expansion of unemployment benefits she felt, “this must be done in a fiscally responsible manner” which observers took to mean she was going to insist that the benefits be paid for. 

As for Senator Collins, in the past three unemployment extension votes, she has taken a similar position to the Snowe with voting in the affirmative. If Senator Snowe's position was to change in the "Nay" category, it would be wise to suspect that Collins will follow her fellow Maine Senator position, against the bill.

The one other vote that Majority Leader Reid might be able to gain is Senator Scott Brown (R-MA). Brown has taken positions of late, in contrast to the GOP mandate and, that has placed the first termed Congressional leader at odds with conservative "Tea Party" leadership.

On November 29th, Senator Brown issued a glowing statement on President Obama’s proposal to freeze federal pay raises, via Political

“I applaud President Obama for taking action to rein in government spending by temporarily freezing federal employee wages. There is still more work to be done and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to control spending and reduce our national debt", Brown stated.

Then on November 23rd, The Boston Globe reported that Senator Brown did not opt in with minority Senator Leader Mitch McConnell decision signing a legal challenge with 20 state Attorney General's, on President Obama's Health Care Law.

"Brown’s spokeswoman, Gail Gitcho, reiterated that the Massachusetts Republican opposes the new health care law but would not say specifically why he did not sign onto a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.

"Senator Brown remains opposed to Obamacare,” Brown's spokeswoman Gail Gitcho stated in a statement. “He is doing what he can to fix some of the worst parts of the law.”

Senator Brown has not made a formal statement to date on passing the unemployment extension in the lame-duck Congressional session to date. 

The only other slightly hopeful GOP vote for jobless benefits is Senator George Voinovich (R-OH). 

In an article written by the senator in August for Politico magazine, reported on News and on November 16th, Voinovich cites for the need to extended unemployment but, that the focus in the Senate should be on creating employment opportunities first.

Instilling certainty into the economy by providing relief to the unemployed is important. But creating sustainable jobs is where this debate should be focused," Voinovich wrote.

What are your thoughts on this article? Is Senator Mark Kirk confused or just showing his true colors on skating above the core issue at hand? What do you believe moderate GOP Senators' Snowe, Collins, Brown or Voinovich will vote to extend unemployment benefits?  Feel free to comment on this story, below!
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