• The top story tonight: the unemployment insurance bill has been sucked into the usual Senate procedural morass after Republicans rejected the Democrats’ proposal to pay for the thing:
Democrats floated a proposal to pay for extended unemployment insurance through mid-November with changes to Medicare many years in the future. But it quickly became clear this was not the kind of bipartisan amendment that would be needed to get a bill through the Senate. Reid took the procedural steps to block any other amendments, meaning the bill is likely dead until there’s a broader agreement, but nothing looked imminent Thursday.
Two points. First, for the fifty bazillionth time, we don’t need to “pay for” this bill. Just put it on the deficit. Second, remember that the 60-vote filibuster still exists for legislation? That situation is looking more and more pointless.
• The farm bill is in bad shape too, with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas admitting that it probably won’t be passed until late January at the earliest. The conflict comes down to basically socialist dairy production control schemes which farmers want but free-market ideologues don’t. It’s a microcosm of today’s GOP: ostensibly free-market fundamentalist, but heavily depended on subsidy-gobbling rural interests.
• Alison Grimes has officially filed to run against Mitch McConnell for the Kentucky Senate race. Offhand, one might think this is a doomed race for Grimes, but according to PPP, McConnell is the least popular Senator in the country, and he and Grimes are about neck-and-neck. Keep your eye on this one.
• RNC chair Reince Priebus says all this Democratic talk about jobless benefits and so forth is just a ruse designed to make Republicans vote against (highly popular) proposals. Heavens above! But if he really thinks that, Kevin Drum has a great plan: just pass everything! That’ll show those sneaky Dems.
• Speaker Boehner and other Republicans are reportedly working on a set of “principles” that will address the fate of the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States. No idea what they’ll do, but apparently just announcing that you’ll have a plan at some point is a significant departure from most of the House Republican caucus.
• Ed Kilgore, a man who knows the South as well as anyone, writes about how Steve Beshear is blazing a new path for Democrats in red states — one outside the typical Blue Dog model. The South is still part of America, and it’s changing just as fast as anywhere, if not faster. Democrats will need to contest every part of the nation if they want to take back the House before 2020.
• Phillip Bump has four good questions that Chris Christie didn’t answer at his Fort Lee scandal press conference. At the very best, Christie looks like a dope who has no idea what he staff is up to.
• Brian Beutler has a great piece about the politics of slowing health-care cost inflation. Conservatives have relied on projections of skyrocketing deficits — driven by skyrocketing health-care costs — as a key pretext for their budget-slashing agenda. Without them, their overriding goal of dismantling the social insurance system will be much more difficult.
• Peter Beinart examines the fundamental Republican assumptions behind government and poverty. While Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is striking a nice new tone, his proposals aren’t much to look at. Put short, if you think government by definition can’t do anything but fail, you won’t be able to do anything about poverty.
• Alex Pareene is much more cynical, saying Republican proposals on poverty are fake and always have been. Unfortunately I think the preponderance of evidence tends to support Pareene on this one.
• Jill Filipovic has a good resolution for 2014: to be kinder and gentler to fellow people, especially on Twitter. This is not to say that getting mad is always wrong, or that one shouldn’t criticize people who deserve it, but that much online disputation is unnecessarily cruel and vicious.
• On a related note, the second-to-last paragraph of this piece is the best piece of writing I’ve ever seen about the problem Filipovic is talking about. Because people like me are mostly left well enough alone — it’s the marginalized communities that suffer most from being unnecessarily at each other’s throats.