In one of the Republicans' most shameless displays of contempt for the average American in recent memory (well, in nearly two years, anyway), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) actually argued on the House floor that opening up ANWR to oil drilling is more important than helping unemployed Americans. (I'll update with a quote after the Congressional Record of today's debate is posted tomorrow.)
Edit on 9/13 to add the aforementioned quote...
Boehner, from page H5356 of the Congressional Record -
Why aren't they thinking about the hardworking men and women in America, who go to work every day, they pay taxes, they do tough jobs, they have to give part of their money to us so that we can spend it on behalf of the American people to provide services? We should always remember that it's the hardworking people in America that provide the taxpayer funds that we spend. And our job is to spend those funds in a responsible way, and this is not, in my view, a responsible bill.
I think the American people want us to achieve energy independence, and the only way we're going to get there is to do what I call, "all of the above.'' We need to conserve more in America. We need biofuels; we need alternative fuels; we need to get serious about nuclear energy; and we need to produce more oil and gas here in the United States instead of depending on some 70 percent of it coming from foreign sources.
Helping unemployed Americans is "irresponsible" while guaranteeing drilling into (and destroying!) ANWR isn't?
Oh, and how does more oil drilling fit into a discussion of unemployment benefits?
End edit...Boehner's press release on the legislation is here; his press release on oil drilling (as well as blaming Nancy Pelosi for rising prices at the pump) is here.
The bill under consideration, H.R. 5749, the Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation Act of 2008, would extend unemployment benefits by 13 weeks. The bill was heard on Wednesday under suspension of the rules, but failed to garner the 2/3 majority needed for passage. It was brought back today under a rule that would allow it to pass with a simple majority.
Additionally, one of the Reps' biggest objections to the bill is that its benefits are not limited to states with the highest levels of unemployment. The example they cited most frequently was Oklahoma, whose rate stands at 3.2%.
Guess they think that someone who is unemployed in OK is less out of a job than someone who is unemployed in Michigan (6.9%).
Boehner and the Reps frequently cited their desire to help workers in Michigan while decrying the "election year politics" that they said are behind the measure.
Wonder who's playing "election year politics" here - in the race for the presidency, Michigan is considered a battleground state with 17 electoral votes, Oklahoma is safe Republican and only has 7 electoral votes.
In the end, H.R. 5749 passed 274 - 137, with the votes of the Arizona delegation breaking along party lines - Democrats Mitchell, Giffords, Grijalva, and Pastor in favor, Republicans Shadegg, Franks, and Renzi opposed, and Flake absent (bereavement).
Note: The Arizona breakdown for yesterday's vote on the bill was the same - Democrats in favor of extending unemployment benefits, Reps opposed, Flake absent.
Regarding local "election year" political considerations, I can understand why Rick Renzi didn't vote for the bill. He's not running again, so he has no real motive to work for his constituents. I can even understand why Trent Franks didn't vote for it - while he is facing a challenge from respected teacher John Thrasher, he still looks fairly safe in his district, which has a Rep registration advantage of over 60,000.
But why is John Shadegg voting against a bill that even his fellow Republicans think won't get passed in the Senate, much less signed into law by the President? I realize that his ideology is very to him, but a vote for this bill would have given Shadegg a little protections from criticisms that he doesn't care for (or work for) working families, including active and veteran military families, that have been disproportionately impacted by the downturn in the economy.
Of course, with Shadegg safe in his corporate-funded D.C. sinecure, he has no personal economic worries anyway (an illustration of his carefree attitude is available for download; it's an interview for last year's Conservative Leadership Conference (tip o' the hat to The Irregular Times for heads-up on the interview).
As it is, he's given Democratic challenger Bob Lord another opening.
From an email press release -
"After months of hundreds of thousands of job losses for American workers, it’s unfathomable why my opponent would vote against such important relief legislation for Arizona’s middle class families in such a difficult time for our nation,” Lord said.
Bob Lord is a *lot* more tactful than I am - Shadegg is taking his working- and middle-class constituents and throwing them under the proverbial bus.
CNN coverage of the unemployment legislation and vote here.
Other House campaign news -
...Humorous site of the day - AZ5 Primary Watch. This isn't a satire site, though it's so over the top that it sometimes reads like one. Instead, it's an attack "blog" anonymously authored by Laura Knaperek, one of her family members, or one of her supporters.
How do I know it's a Knaperek blog? Well, the only Rep candidates in CD5 that it *hasn't* attacked are Mark Anderson and Laura Knaperek.
I've met them both, and this doesn't really seem like his style.
On the other hand, I've heard her speak in person regarding liberals using the same terminology and rhetorical style that this blog uses toward liberals.
My early prediction: The CD5 Republican primary will be the dirtiest race in the state this year.
Unless Knaperek wins the primary, in which case the CD5 general election will win that dubious award.