As the New York Times editorial board noted this morning, it's becoming more and more clear that the U.S. Senate is in no rush
to extend the filing deadline on unemployment aid, even as hundreds of thousands of jobless workers lose their benefits each week. But that doesn't mean some in Congress aren't still trying to figure out a way to push the "extenders" bill through.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said yesterday that she planned to hold a bill to preserve Medicare reimbursements rates -- the so-called "doc fix" measure -- until the upper chamber acts on the jobs bill. As of yesterday, Senate negotiations were focused on swaying Olympia Snowe and
Susan Collins. The two Maine Republicans are demanding that, in exchange for their vote, the
Democrats curtail an extension of the enhanced Medicaid matching fund rate included in last year’s stimulus bill.
Here's the catch: Doing so would blow an estimate $230 million hole in Illinois' FY 2011 budget. (As in numerous other states, lawmakers anticipated receiving the extra Medicaid funds when drawing up the spending plan). Taking it out would almost certainly mean more budget tightening (i.e., layoffs). At a time when polls suggest Americans are more worried
about jobs than the long-term deficit, that seems like a dumb move politically. But if Collins and Snowe are the only gettable
votes from the GOP, it might be the Democrats' only option to keep the unemployed afloat.