Brad Plumer lists seven things that Congress needs to do this month. Two of them amount to “don’t be stupid and shut down the government.” One is just miscellaneous stuff. And another is confirmation of Janet Yellen as Fed chairman, which is uncontroversial and should take only a day or two. So really, we’re left with three things:
- Decide whether to extend emergency unemployment insurance.
- Pass a farm bill.
- Decide whether to extend 55 different tax breaks.
Unemployment insurance is a social safety net program. The farm bill is stalled over whether to enact cuts to food stamps. The 55 tax breaks mostly benefit corporations and campaign donors.
Any guesses about which of these urgent priorities will produce adamantine opposition from Republicans and which will get broad support and pass without too much trouble? Did you guess that #3 would be the easy one, despite the fact that it costs about five times more than the other two combined? Congratulations! You too can be a political pundit.