Debbie Stabenow raised some eyebrows when she basically said Republicans were tanking the country on purpose by blocking any added supports to the fragile economy. Last night on the Senate floor, Dick Durbin joined her. This is an aggressive talking point on the part of the Democrats.

That’s when Illinois’ own Sen. Dick Durbin unloaded on the minority party, suggesting that political posturing, rather than concern about the deficit, is driving their obstruction. “The record is clear: It is a party of no that is hoping that the voters will vote yes in November,” he said. “I hope they remember that the Republicans had no alternative [proposal] when it came to this disastrous economic situation.”

“There used to be bipartisan sentiment that when America faced a disaster, we would pull together… we have a national emergency with this recession and 14 million Americans out of work,” Durbin said. But that has ended in a political ploy, Durbin basically said.

Last night, the House passed a 6-month Medicare doc fix, which is paid for through internal tweaks to how hospitals are reimbursed, and in her message after passage Speaker Nancy Pelosi echoed Durbin, saying Republicans have no intention of helping to create one more job from now until November.

“Congress has repeatedly voted to create jobs, strengthen small businesses, and invest in our middle class, and to ensure that our seniors and military families receive the care they deserve from their doctors. But at every turn, Senate Republicans have said no to jobs and have sided with Wall Street over Main Street.

“Just today, Senate Republicans voted against a proposal to close tax loopholes that send American jobs overseas, help small businesses grow and provide assistance to workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. It is clear that Senate Republicans have no intention of passing any jobs legislation, whether it is tied to physician payments or not.

“Democrats will continue to protect the bedrock promise that is Medicare and we will keep demanding from Senate Republicans: show us the jobs.”

1.2 million people will lose their jobless benefits by the end of the month, joining millions of “99ers” who have already seen their benefits run out. Senate Democrats will turn to a small business lending bill, with cloture on a motion to proceed expected Monday. While there’s a possibility they could return to deal with just the unemployment piece – Olympia Snowe intimated she’d support a deficit-spending version of that, but who knows – the tax extenders bill as a whole looks dead. Republicans did offer a one-month extension of jobless benefits paid for by “unspent stimulus money,” an almost meaningless term as practically all the stimulus funds are committed, but Democrats rejected that.

It’s unclear whether voters will hear the message of Republicans deliberately sinking the economy, or do what they normally do, which is blame the party in power.

David Dayen

David Dayen