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Both Parties Plot Jobless Benefits Strategies

“In the end, I don’t know how you spin around everyone voting to get out of town” before an extension was passed, a Senate GOP leadership aide said, arguing that as a result, “Democrats know they have a huge liability now that they didn’t have last time.”Democrats dismissed the Republicans’ strategy, arguing that while it would have been preferable for either the House to have agreed to the one-week deal — or for Senate Democrats to have remained in session — Republicans are ultimately to blame.“There are 10 different ways that I would have preferred for this to turn out, and this isn’t one of them,” a Democratic operative said, adding, “At the end of the day, they’re still the ones that are blocking this.”This operative also dismissed Republicans’ claims that they are looking to instill fiscal discipline on Congress, arguing that the only time in recent years the GOP has sought to tighten the federal belt “is when it hurts poor and middle-class working people.”Reid spokesman Rodell Mollineau also rejected the Republicans’ strategy — and their broader argument that their objections to the original extension were based on a desire for fiscal discipline.“Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own do not deserve to bear the brunt of payback politics or some hypocritical Johnny-come-lately stance on spending. When we return on [April 12] we will have a vote on extending these critical provisions and the American people will plainly see who is and who is not on their side,” Mollineau said.According to talking points circulated by Reid’s office, Democrats next week will push to paint the GOP as openly hostile toward the middle class, accusing Republicans of “taking out their anger on the unemployed” for the defeat in the health care fight.Reid’s office instructs Members to use phrases like “they lost that battle and many on the other side are angry and frustrated. And they have begun casting around for a target for that anger and frustration,” and “Republicans should not take out their anger on the least fortunate, which is exactly what they are doing. They should not kick the unemployed while they’re down.”To blunt GOP demands for fiscal restraint, Democrats are also directed to argue that given the economic situation, unemployment insurance is an emergency and therefore does not need to be offset.“They say this package must be paid for. We believe this is an emergency and we should deal with it as previous Congresses have dealt with it — as emergency spending,” the talking points say.

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