Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Unemployment Insurance Cut-Off Further Imperils The Fate Of Republican Gary Miller


Take a look at those poll results above that PPP found when they surveyed CA-31 (the Inland Empire). The very extreme right Republican incumbent, multimillionaire Gary Miller, has one of the most dismal job approval ratings of any incumbent in any district in America-- 27%. If the election were held today-- with no campaigning at all-- he would lose to any Democrat 48-39%. But if there is campaigning and the Democratic candidate lets voters know that Miller backed the Tea Party scheme that shut down the government, he loses by a much bigger margin. His 39% core stays solid but the Democratic vote rises from 48% to 51%. And that's just one issue. CA-31 is a largely Hispanic district and Miller has a decidedly anti-Hispanic voting record. Voters between San Bernardino and Upland haven't seen this yet either. 66% of the voters in CA-31 support comprehensive immigration reform. Gary Miller is a staunch opponent of reform. The radical right Arkansas-raised congressman is a bigot who likes Romney's self-deportation idea. That isn't going to go over well in CA-31.

Miller would never have been elected in this D+5 district in the first place-- 2012 was the first time-- if not for DCCC incompetence. Steve Israel backed a useless empty suit, Pete Aguilar, and forgot to hire a tutor for him so he could learn Spanish. Aguilar is so inept and unable to relate to the voters that he came in third behind twio Republicans and didn't even make it to the general election. He even came in third in Redlands, the city he is supposedly the mayor of (unelected mayor). No one has ever known if Aguilar was a Democrat or a Republican and he never took a "controversial" stand on an issue in his life. He even publicly backed the Simpson-Bowles plan to reduce Social Security benefits for retired seniors. So this year, without even agreeing to meet Eloise Reyes, the progressive community activist running for the seat, Steve Israel deemed Aguilar the Democratic nominee again. The only way Miller can be reelected is if Israel and the DCCC screww up the district the way they did in 2012. These DC power-mongers, who prefer a conservative like Aguilar, should not be interfering in primaries in districts they know absolutely nothing about whatsoever.

This week, the Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee warned that "If Congress fails to extend the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program nearly 213,793 people in California will lose their insurance coverage immediately on Dec. 28, according to the California Employment Development Department. An additional 325,800 people in California will lose their coverage in the first six months of 2014 if Republicans continue to block an extension of the program, according to Department of Labor estimates. Federal unemployment insurance took effect in 2008 and has been reauthorized several times since as Americans continue to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Despite the real progress the economy has made since its near collapse in 2008, there are still 1.3 million fewer jobs than there were before the recession began and long-term unemployment as a percentage of the unemployed is 37 percent, near historic highs." Their numbers show that San Bernardino County-- which encompasses 100% of CA-31-- would lose benefits for 13,218 unemployed workers on December 28-- at the end of this week!

Yesterday, PPP released a poll showing that CA-31 voters overwhelmingly oppose Miller's backing of the Republican decision to cut off extended unemployment benefits at the end of the month. "Voters," writes Tom Jensen of PPP, "say they would be inclined to punish their already vulnerable representatives at the polls next year if they vote to cut off benefits." Overall support for extending unemployment insurance-- which both President Obama and Eloise Reyes have called for-- is 68% among all voters, across party lines in CA-31. Among Democrats, that support rises to 84%. Even Republicans in the district back it by 51-41% and Inland Empire Independents are in favor 62-34%. On top of that, 42% of voters say that if Miller votes against extending unemployment benefits, they will be even less likely to vote for his already shaky reelection.

Yesterday the Washington Post's ace political commentator, Greg Sargent, covered CA-31 for the first time this year: "In California’s 31st district, currently held by Rep. Gary Miller, 68 percent of voters want the benefits continued and 28 percent support ending them. Republicans support an extension 54-41… Polls like this, along with increasingly brutal local media coverage, must be worrying many a Republican strategist. It reinforces several major negative perceptions about congressional Republicans-- that they are pervasively obstructionist, that they have little concern for worse-off Americans and that they allow ideology to hamper the economic recovery. (A failure to renew the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program would cost 240,000 jobs, according to a White House report.) That’s exactly the message progressives will be hammering over the holiday break, especially when benefits for the long-term unemployed stop three days after Christmas. 'It’s not just in America’s economic interest to extend [unemployment] benefits, [but] these polls show it’s in swing-district Republicans’ own political interest to support the jobless in their districts,” said Jeremy Funk of Americans United for Change. “Otherwise they just might join their ranks.'”

Now back to the Inland Empire. Eloise Reyes has been on the front lines all during the campaign calling for the kinds of progressive pro-growth, pro-stimulus policies that increase job creation. This morning, she told us that "As our country continues its recovery from the Great Recession, the last thing we should do is further punish the victims of the economic downturn by balancing the budget on the backs of the unemployed. Middle class families have already seen the value of their homes plummet and their retirement savings wiped out. To end unemployment benefits for long-term job seekers would be to cut millions of Americans off from their one remaining financial lifeline as they struggle to get back on their feet.

"Gary Miller's support of this legislation is just one more example of how out of touch he is with the district that he represents in Congress.

"California is the state that would be hardest hit by the decision to cut long-term unemployment benefits, with over 200,000 residents slated to immediately lose their sole source of income on December 28 and an additional 800,000 expected to see their regular benefits run out in 2014. For the Inland Empire, where one in four children currently lives in poverty, ending long-term unemployment insurance would have devastating consequences.

"When millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet, Republican obstructionism is simply irresponsible. Clearly, the only constituent Gary Miller is representing in Congress is himself."


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