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AP Hits Republican Obstructionist Pinata for Rejected Senate Jobs Bill

In the media’s eyes, Republicans might as well wear hockey goalie masks and run around with chainsaws.

In a June 24 AP story titled “Republicans Kill Senate Jobless Aid Measure,” writer Andrew Taylor paints Senate Republicans as obstructionist villains for “killing” the Democrats’ job bill that would have extended unemployment benefits for people who’ve been out of work more than six months. Taylor described the “fallout” from the “demise of the bill” and quoted White House spokesman Robert Gates and Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) within the first six paragraphs:

“’The president has been clear: Americans should not fall victim to Republican obstruction at a time of great economic challenge for our nation’s families,’ Gibbs said in a statement.”

Not until paragraph 10 did Taylor quote Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s reasoning for Republican opposition: that the bill will add new taxes and over $30 billion dollars to the national debt. Still, Taylor portrayed the Democrats as willing to reach across the aisle:

“Democratic leaders said they bent over backwards to accommodate the demands by Republicans for a smaller measure.”

While Taylor wrote glowingly of the rejected bill, he never mentions any drawbacks of extending unemployment benefits.

John R. Lott Jr., Senior Research Scientist at University of Maryland College Park and BMI advisor, told BMI that economists from both political parties have found that unemployment benefits actually promote unemployment.

“If you give people more benefits, you’re going to have people staying unemployed longer,” Lott said. “Most people get jobs right before their benefits run out, so when you extend unemployment, you’re just shifting the ‘bubble’ of people finding jobs.”

On rare occasions, the media have noted the negatives of unemployment benefits but more often they perpetuate the idea that Republicans are obstructions. Additionally, they continually showcase victims of unemployment but never go into detail about how cutting unemployment benefits could be a hidden blessing.

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