: Senate Democrats tried and failed on three separate occasions this month to pass a tax extenders bill that included an extension of expired unemployment benefits. Republicans, along with Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), killed it by threatening a filibuster, potentially forcing states to cut 200,000 jobs, putting in jeopardy health and education programs, and denying benefits to 1.2 million out-of-work Americans. As a result, as Garofalo notes, Senate Democrats whittled the bill down to appease the GOP and "subjected more and more of the bill to spending offsets, ultimately leaving just the jobless benefits extension unpaid for." While Republicans still refused to budge, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) -- who joined the filibuster threat all three times -- is now advocating for a benefits-only bill, even if it adds to the deficit. "Of course, passing a stand-alone bill neglects all the other important provisions that were in the extenders bill, including COBRA subsidies to help laid-off workers purchase health insurance and aid to states to help them with their Medicaid bills," adds Garofalo. "Failing to pass such measures is only going to add to the economic misery that Snowe at least seems aware is occurring." There are currently 15 million Americans unemployed, and almost half of them have been out of work for at least six months -- a post-World War II record. The House plans to vote on extending unemployment benefits again today, after an attempt to do so was blocked by 139 Republicans and 16 Democrats yesterday.
With millions of Americans unemployed, the nation struggling to recover from the greatest financial crisis in decades, and "job creation and economic growth" top priorities for the public, President Obama is poised to sign landmark financial regulatory reform meant to ensure the country won't ever face these same dire problems in the future. MSNBC points to the legislation as a "reminder about how much the White House and the Democratic-controlled Congress have done in the past year and a half. ... You can't say this is a Do-Nothing Congress." As the Center for American Progress' Pat Garofalo explains, "There were many reasons for the economic collapse of 2008...but chief among them was a financial system that worked in the interests of Wall Street and too-big-to-fail financial institutions, and against the interests of consumers." While not perfect, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act would work to improve disclosure, protect consumers, reform the derivatives market, and regulate the riskiest practices of the nation's biggest banks. Now that final passage is near, however, many Republicans -- spouting rhetoric about wanting reform but unwilling to help pass anything that Obama has made a priority -- are getting cold feet about voting against the interests of Wall Street