Unemployment extension issue enters Senate race

July 19, 2010 8:10:49 PM PDT
Hundreds of thousands of Californians could lose their unemployment benefits if Congress doesn't pass an extension. The president is pushing for that extension, which has been held up in Congress.

The unemployment extension has its best shot at passage on Tuesday. Senate Democrats picked up a vote Monday when Robert Byrd's replacement was sworn in.

Speaking to reporters in the Rose Garden, President Barack Obama called on senators to pass an extension of benefits to the unemployed.

"We've got a responsibility to help them make ends meet and support their families, even as they're looking for another job," said Obama.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, was also talking jobs at a solar panel instillation company in Foster City. She has voted for the unemployment extension three times, but each time Republicans have blocked it.

"People understand when you're subjected to a filibuster every day, you've got to work to get things done," said Boxer.

She said she is fighting for every jobs bill that makes sense.

"Passed the HIRE act, which gives tax breaks to companies like this one who hire workers who've been unemployed for a long time," said Boxer.

And she portrayed her Republican opponent, Carly Fiorina, as siding with the party of "No."

"She opposes everything," said Boxer.

Darcy Linn, a spokeswoman for the Fiorina campaign, says Fiorina does oppose the unemployment extension because of the way it's structured.

"The issue really is with this bill that it's a $33 billion bill and there's no offset for the additional spending," said Linn.

Fiorina and congressional Republicans want $33 billion in spending cuts to prevent an increase in the deficit. But in California, where unemployment is so high, ABC7 political analyst Bruce Cain, Ph.D., believes Boxer and the Democrats have a slight advantage.

"I think that's going to be the winning argument, but I don't think it's going to win by a lot," said Cain.

Cain went onto say that Fiornia's strategy isn't aimed at the majority of California voters on the extension or global warming or immigration.

"All those sort of red meat issues for the Republican party are for a purpose and that purpose is to mobilize the base, to keep that base energized, so that they turn out in higher numbers than the Democratic base," said Cain.

It's a strategy Karl Rove employed successfully in the 2004 presidential election.

When asked about it Monday afternoon, Boxer responded as you would expect.

"Can I say something? My base is very energized," said Boxer.

Well, she was speaking to supporters at a solar panel company, so that answer was to be expected.

Boxer later admitted there is a huge amount of energy on the right, particularly among tea party members.

You can bet Fiorina is counting on that.


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