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Jobless benefits vs. Bush tax cuts, or synergy?

In a Seattle neighborhood’s coffee shop on Tuesday, a couple of men talked about the economy. Paying at the counter, I started to tune into the talk when I heard one of them say something along the lines of, “At least the money is being spent, not just piling up in an account where it won’t do anyone any good.”

His companion chimed in, comparing whatever they were discussing to Congress letting extended jobless benefits expire. As he noted, that jobless money goes right into the economy, getting spent quickly and fueling employment for others.

New York Times article suggests there may be more hope for the longer-term unemployed and their communities than we suspected in a Seattle coffee shop. There are hints that Democrats might go along with extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in return for Republicans’ agreeing to action on extending the unemployment benefits (as well as compromising on some other Republican favorites, such as the lifting of the estate tax).

Republicans might have to ignore some of their own shouters, who are busy trying to hypnotize folks into believing that maybe the unemployed want to stay that way. And President Obama would take heat from the more liberal wing of his party if he agreed to a tax deal for the richest individuals. But if the talk in my neighborhood is any indication, politicians on both sides would have a lot of cover from the sensible public for a compromise that helps the jobless.

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