I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but I think Ben Nelson has now officially surpassed Joe Lieberman as the most utterly loathsome member of the Senate Democratic Caucus:
Then there’s centrist Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who bucked his Democratic colleagues and voted against the bill. Nelson, in particular, took issue with his colleagues’ reasoning for why the unemployment benefits, unlike the rest of the bill, weren’t paid for. Traditionally, unemployment benefits are green-lit without being paid for because they’re deemed an emergency. Democrats have done it this way; Republicans have, too. And as Sen. Debbie Stabenow told reporters yesterday afternoon, the same should’ve applied to the current jobs bill: “15 million people unemployed,” she stressed, “is an emergency.”
Not so, according to Ben Nelson. “I don’t buy that distinction,” Nelson said yesterday. “At some point, it ceases to be an emergency. It’s ongoing…I think the bill should be paid for.”
Ah, I see. So if your house is on fire long enough, it’s not that big a deal any more and you should just live with it. Maybe next he’ll explain that we should stop pushing BP to cap the Macondo well because it’s been gushing so long that it’s not an emergency anymore.
It’s the politics of desensitization, where the duration of a crisis is more important than its seriousness. Ben Nelson doesn’t think unemployment is an emergency anymore because it’s just so 2009. I’m sure all the people who have been unemployed since 2009 (or longer) totally agree with him.
Also worth noting how Nelson uses fiscal responsibility as a club – can’t have any new spending unless it’s paid for! – yet brags about how he never met a tax cut he didn’t like and is the only Democrat to sign Americans for Tax Reform’s pledge to “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes” (Specter signed it as a Republican). I’m betting that his plan to reduce unemployment involves a really really big bathtub.