New Hampshire Views: On unemployment benefits, Ayotte is right
On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate rightly voted to avoid a filibuster and to keep legislation alive which would extend emergency unemployment benefits.
To keep the issue alive, the Senate needed 60 votes, which it got with the help of six Republicans including New Hampshire’s U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Maine’s U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.
On the heels of Tuesday’s vote, we received emails from members of the New Hampshire and Maine congressional delegations praising the vote.
From Ayotte: “I sympathize with Granite Staters who are struggling to find work and I want to see them get back on the job. While I voted to begin debate on this legislation, I continue to believe that any temporary extension should be paid for in a responsible manner, and I hope both parties will work together to find a solution.”
From Collins: “I understand how important unemployment insurance is to those who lost their jobs through no fault of their own and are searching for work but are unable to find it. Today’s vote to proceed provides us time to debate the bill and to find the funds that could pay for the extension of benefits.”
We also heard encouraging words from U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and 1st District Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.
There was, however, one significant difference in praise offered by Ayotte and Collins when compared to that of Shaheen and Shea-Porter.
They key phase, borrowed from Ayotte, reads as follows: “While I voted to begin debate on this legislation, I continue to believe that any temporary extension should be paid for in a responsible manner . . .”
The word “responsible” is the key difference between the legislative priorities of the Republicans who voted to prevent the filibuster and some who would irresponsibly borrow the money to fund the extension.
While neither Shaheen nor Shea-Porter have outrightly suggested going deeper in debt, the lack of support expressed in their statements to responsibly pay for the extension speaks volumes in light of their track records in Congress.
Ayotte’s and Collins’s votes speak to fiscal accountability and the need to sometimes break from party ranks. But no good deed goes unpunished.
Amid the words of praise for the vote came a statement from Americans for Limited Government, a libertarian advocacy group, which writes: “These six Senate Republicans that voted with Democrats to extend unemployment benefits are doing nothing to lift the economy out of its continued doldrums, and are only feeding the Obama Administration’s class warfare agenda. Instead of treating the symptoms, it is time to begin undoing the policies that are really holding the economy back and preventing people from finding work.”
The mistake ALG makes is accusing Ayotte and Collins of belonging to the debt-driven, interventionist cabal which claims the loyalties of Shaheen and Shea-Porter.
There is a time and a place for government intervention. Such is the case with a national unemployment rate stuck above 7 percent – if it is done responsibly with money that can be reallocated from the many wasteful areas of the federal budget.