Maintaining Unemployment Benefits: one More Dead Issue in the House

House Speaker, John Boehner, has on a number of occasions said that he would only allow a vote in the House to extend unemployment benefits if they could be paid for by cuts in non-defense, domestic spending (food stamps, WIC, School Lunch, EITC, Medicare, roads improvement, etc.).

However, a new poll indicates that his opinion is probably not shared by a majority of Democrats, Republicans or Independents. The poll, released in early December by Public Policy Polling, surveyed voters in four congressional districts, including Speaker Boehner’s and found a solid majority in all of them supporting a bill with a clean increase in benefits, not connected to cuts in others to get there. For Democrats, the average was in the mid-seventies, for Republicans it was in the mid-fifties, and for independents, the low sixties. The numbers for Speaker Boehner’s district was 85 percent for Democrats, 52 percent for Republicans, and 61% percent for independents. Closer with Republicans, but in all three groups in his home district, his position was in the minority.

The average for all voters in all of the polled districts was in the high sixties. That’s a very an extremely high percentage support for an issue that the Speaker says does not have public support.

The poll also asked if the respondent would be more or less likely to vote for the Congressperson next year and the response in every district, again, including the Speaker’s, was up for less likely and down for more likely. In a “normal” America, that would cause some office holders to be concerned, but today with gerrymandering having locked in all four of the seats surveyed as Republican-only seats, they are not concerned. While the percentage of voters saying that they would be likely to vote for the incumbent has gone up, most of those are Democrats and Independents, whose votes don’t count.

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