The Pull and Push Of The Unemployment Debate

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • SENATE MOVES FIRST, THEN THE PRESIDENT: This morning the Senate will take a procedural vote on a bill to extend unemployment benefits to Americans for three months. Senate Republicans appear poised to block the measure, an outcome that will likely give way to tough talk from President Obama who will immeditaley ramp up the pressure on Congress. At a mid-morning event at the White House, the president will make his case against the backdrop of unemployed workers whose benefits expired at the end of last year.


ABC's RICK KLEIN: It's an early glimpse of a defining issue - perhaps the defining issue - of 2014. With a Senate vote and a presidential speech on unemployment insurance today, Democrats start to stake out their ground. And with early positioning from 2016ers including Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan, Republicans are beginning to mark their own territory when it comes to fighting poverty and income inequality. So it is that both parties have woken up to a potentially powerful set of principles, ones that can be framed along the bigger government/smaller government divide. Both sides, though, will quickly come up against the limits of their arguments. And this year, both will need to find ways to channel voter frustration and anger that's often being voiced at those already in office.

ABC's JEFF ZELENY: The Senate plan for a three-month extension of unemployment insurance is still a couple votes shy of the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a Republican filibuster, despite having more time to rally support after it was postponed last night when some senators couldn't reach the Capitol because of flight delays. But if the measure falls short when the vote is called at 10:30 a.m. today, it won't be the end of the discussion. Any proposal that stands a chance of passing the House must be paid for. Some Republicans feel they're being unfairly portrayed as being opposed to helping the long-term unemployed, rather than simply against a plan that doesn't offset costs elsewhere in the budget. As Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and other Republicans start drawing attention to income inequality, the burden is on both parties to come up with a plan that can pass. If the Senate vote falls short, we'll see if the White House brings Republicans along when it goes back to the drawing board.


TEA PARTY GROUPS AWAKEN FROM HOLIDAY SLUMBER TO FIGHT IRS RULES. After getting off to a slow start, conservative tea party groups are pushing back on the Internal Revenue Service's new proposal to regulate tax-exempt groups. It's the latest chapter of a saga over the targeting of conservative groups throughout the 2012 election that exploded over the summer of 2013. And it comes nearly a month and a half after the IRS first revealed its proposed rules in late November, ABC's ABBY PHILLIP notes. The IRS's Thanksgiving-week announcement of new rules to rein in tax-exempt groups that participate in political activities caught many by surprise - especially conservative groups. "They seem hell bent to do whatever they're setting out to do because of the way they issued the rules and the fact that the comment period happens during the holiday season," said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks. Kibbe's organization over the weekend urged its members and affiliates, which include tea party groups across the country, to submit comments opposing the proposed rules. The response was impressive, more than 10,000 people responded to the plea within 24 hours, Kibbe said. And as of Monday, more than 3,000 comments had been submitted. On Monday, another tea party group, ForAmerica, launched its own push to oppose the IRS rules. Initially, it seemed that the two groups had launched an orchestrated rollout, but Kibbe said they didn't coordinate with ForAmerica on the effort. ForAmerica has put six-figures behind its social media and digital ad effort, the group said.

JANET YELLEN CONFIRMED AS FIRST WOMAN TO LEAD FED. For the first time ever, a woman will lead the nation's powerful central bank, the Federal Reserve. The Senate yesterday confirmed Janet Yellen as chairwoman of the Fed's Board of Governors, a role she'll assume on Feb. 1, according to ABC's DEVIN DWYER. The vote of 56 to 26, including 11 Republicans in favor, was a history-making first order of business for the Senate after returning from a three-week holiday recess. More than a dozen senators were not present for the vote because of weather-related travel delays. Yellen, 67, who was nominated by President Obama in October, will become the first Democrat to head the central bank since 1987. She succeeds Ben Bernanke, a George W. Bush appointee who is stepping down after eight years at the helm. A U.C. Berkley economist, Yellen has been vice chair of the Fed since 2010, when the bank was at the forefront of a government-wide battle against high unemployment and lagging economic growth.

FIVE QUESTIONS FOR TWITTER'S POLITICAL GURU. Adam Sharp, head of government and non-profits at Twitter recently spoke with ABC's KATHERINE FAULDERS. Here's an excerpt: ABC NEWS: What role will Twitter play in the 2014 midterm elections? SHARP: As we approach 2014, the more interesting comparison is to look back at the last midterm election in 2010. When that Congress was sworn in in January 2011, only about one-third of the House and Senate were actually on Twitter. Now, all 100 Senators have Twitter accounts and 97 percent of the House of Representatives. In 2010, there was a use of Twitter that was very much by the challengers. One-fifth of incumbents had a Twitter account and almost all the challengers had Twitter accounts. Twitter was a domain for challengers to get access to the bully pulpit. As we move into 2014 it will be interesting to see how that dynamic changes. We can expect more of a back and forth and potential for real substantive debate. We saw this back and forth dynamic play out a year ago during the fiscal cliff. These negotiations were taking place completely behind the scenes until White House Press Secretary Jay Carney made a statement referencing Congressman Justin Amash. Amash responded to Carney on Twitter, generating a public debate over the fiscal cliff. Individual voters and others who were watching this play out started asking questions themselves. After weeks of no direct engagement publicly between the White House and Republicans we were seeing a real debate play out in real time. We can expect to see this more going into the 2014 midterm elections.

NOTED: SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM TWEETS EMERGENCY LANDING. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was aboard a flight from Greenville, S.C. to Washington, D.C. yesterday that was forced to make an emergency landing. Graham chronicled the emergency landing in a series of tweets posted after the plane touched down on the runway, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ notes. The South Carolina senator, who is up for re-election this year, said he and other passengers noticed a strange sound coming from the engine. Shortly after, the pilot announced they would make an emergency landing. A spokesman for Graham had no other details about what caused the flight problem. Here's Graham's recounting of the emergency landing:

WHY LIZ CHENEY ABANDONED WYOMING SENATE RACE. Liz Cheney announced yesterday that she was withdrawing from the Senate race in Wyoming, abruptly ending her Republican primary fight against Sen. Mike Enzi, a three-term incumbent who became a far more formidable rival than she had anticipated when she declared her candidacy last summer, ABC's JEFF ZELENY reports. "Serious health issues have recently arisen in our family, and under the circumstances, I have decided to discontinue my campaign," Cheney said in a statement. "My children and their futures were the motivation for our campaign, and their health and well-being will always be my overriding priority." The health problems involve one of her teenage daughters, who has been diagnosed with diabetes, Republicans close to the family told ABC News. Several people familiar with the campaign in Wyoming and Washington said Cheney reached her decision over the holidays, and only began telling advisers in recent days. Former Sen. Alan Simpson, a Wyoming Republican and longtime friend of the Cheney family, told ABC News that he spoke to Liz Cheney: "She told us she was stepping away, that it was a mom thing. Her children she felt needed her more - and she needed them."


WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY SPORTS POST-HOLIDAY BEARD. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney isn't quite ready to say good-bye to the holiday break - and he has the beard to prove it, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ notes. Stepping up to the podium for his first press briefing in over two weeks yesterday, Carney surprised reporters with a scruffy post-holiday beard. "My wife says she likes it," Carney said. (Carney is married to ABC News' Claire Shipman.) "It's actually an homage to Mark Knoller," Carney later added, referencing a CBS News White House correspondent who regularly dons a beard. By the end of Monday's briefing, one reporter noted Carney's facial hair had already become famous on social media. "Your beard has a Twitter handle already," one reporter said to him, referring to @presssecbeard.


@SalenaZitoTrib: Obama using long term unemployed as backdrop tho tough to talk income inequality as rich got richer & poor got poorer …

@seanspicer: RNC Launches New Year's Resolutions Radio Ads Against Targeted @TheDemocrats …

@TonyFratto: It's so cold in DC Harry Reid is switching to hot yoga.

@adamconner: What's the rule on wearing flannel pajamas to work when it's this cold? Asking, uh, for a friend?

@JimAcostaCNN: DC = Dat's cold

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...