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WATCH: Brutal Attack Ad Hits GOP Senator On Unemployment Benefits

Memo Pad Politics

WATCH: Brutal Attack Ad Hits GOP Senator On Unemployment Benefits


Americans United for Change is hitting the airwaves in hopes of pressuring Republicans to extend emergency federal long-term unemployment benefits.

On Wednesday, the liberal 501(c)(4) “dark money” group released a brutal television ad urging Illinoisans to hold Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) “personally responsible” for the program’s expiration.

“If you are one of the tens of thousands of people in Illinois who recently lost long-term unemployment benefits, you should know that one man is personally responsible, and can get them restored,” the ad’s narrator says.

“Mark Kirk promised he would vote for an extension if his conditions were met, and when he got what he wanted, Kirk still voted against continuing unemployment benefits,” the voiceover continues.

“He is the deciding vote when the Senate votes again in the coming days,” it concludes. “Call Senator Kirk. Tell him you will remember who cost your family this critical economic lifeline when you were laid off and searching for work, but still couldn’t find a job.”

The “promise” mentioned in the ad refers to Senator Kirk’s declaration that he would vote to extend unemployment benefits if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) agreed to offset the cost with spending cuts elsewhere. Although Reid acquiesced to Kirk’s demand, the Illinois Republican still declined to vote for the extension — which fell one vote short of overcoming a Republican filibuster.

Since then, Democrats have continued to search for the one Republican vote needed to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to pass the bill. Kirk reportedly remains their number-one target.

There is some reason for Senate Democrats — and Americans United for Change — to believe that they could pressure Kirk into switching his vote. Illinois is a reliably blue state that also has the third highest unemployment rate in the nation, at 8.6 percent. According to a recent Public Policy Polling survey, Illinois voters say they’re less likely to vote for Kirk because of his vote against extending the benfits by a 40 to 31 percent margin, which could greatly complicate his 2016 re-election hopes.

Even if Kirk does flip his votes and help the extension pass, it may be a hollow victory for the long-term unemployed. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives remains extremely unlikely to pass any unemployment bill that comes out of the Senate.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Henry Decker

Henry Decker was formerly the Managing Editor of The National Memo. He is currently an Online Associate at MRCampaigns.

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  1. jmprint February 27, 2014

    Hey if government fund aren’t being directed into their pockets, they are not interested. The republicans are only here to help the wealthy, and I don’t think any of them lost extended unemployment benefits. They could care less if someone needs to feed their family, pay the rent or pay for doctors visits, it’s not important to them.

  2. FedUpInNJ February 27, 2014

    Thank GOD! Finally, an ad that tells it exactly like it is! Yeah!!!! Thank you Americans for change! Mark Kirk has no heart.

  3. docb February 27, 2014

    Finally… Hit them hard and often with the truth!

  4. 4sanity4all February 27, 2014

    Since Mark Kirk has recovered from his stroke, he has sometimes been voting with the liberals, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that. I think people of both parties should vote according to what will be good for their constituents, not what party bosses are demanding. That being said, he represents a very conservative, wealthy area, and his constituents might not be in favor of extending unemployment benefits. However, since Illinois has the third highest unemployment rate in the nation, and there are not many proposals to create new jobs in Illinois, it puzzles me why all of our politicians would not be on board with providing some relief to people who are looking for jobs, and finding only part time, low paying jobs. Here in Illinois, people are working 2 to 5 part time jobs; and they still are not bringing home enough pay to live on.

    1. Sand_Cat February 27, 2014

      The article says he’s a Senator; unless it’s mistaken, his “area” is the whole state. Again, I have to ask: if this is a reliably blue state, how did he become senator? Disclosure: I come from New Jersey, and I’m hard up for an explanation of how this supposedly “blue” state elected and re-elected an obnoxious Republican bully.

      1. jointerjohn February 28, 2014

        The fact is Mark Kirk is a sneaky republican who stays in the moderate margins and mostly out of sight, but when the party leans on him like in this case, he comes up all coward.

      2. 4sanity4all February 28, 2014

        You are correct, I was thinking of state, not federal districts. Illinois is very Democratic in the well populated areas, like Chicagoland. But wealthy areas and downstate are very Republican. And Kirk is from a wealthy North Shore area. I received a phone call from his office yesterday, because I had communicated with them about unemployment benefits extension. I was able to leave a recorded message. Let’s hope it does some good. Illinois usually goes for Democratic presidents, but we vary on our governors. Usually, when our former Governor gets indicted, then goes to jail, the opposite party is elected. I wish I was kidding, but that’s how we roll in Illinois. But Chicago, Democratic mayors, always.

    2. disqus_fsqeoY3FsG February 28, 2014

      “I think people of both parties should vote according to what will be good for their constituents, not what party bosses are demanding.” Considering once they get to Washington their salaries, benefits, security, travel, offices, staff and expenses are paid for by “We the People”. These politicians need to realize they have to balance the needs and wants of their constituents, with the needs and wants of the entire nation.

  5. Sand_Cat February 27, 2014

    If it’s a reliably blue state, how did this gentleman get elected?

    1. jointerjohn February 28, 2014

      In that entire debacle of now deposed former Governor Rod Blagojevich appointing a successor to Barack Obama’s Senate seat, he ended up going with former Attorney General Roland Burris. Burris, damaged and unable to defend the Senate seat, gave way to the party’s nomination of one-term State Treasurer Alexi Janulius. Janulius, a less than stellar campaigner and with a load of nepotistic baggage hanging from him, muffed the job over to Kirk. The moral of the story is that whether a state is red or blue, the strength of candidates can still make a difference.

  6. JD Mulvey February 28, 2014

    Had the Senate acted a month ago, there might have been enough pressure and momentum to get John Boehner to move the issue in the House as well. Now that seems less likely, especially given that the President has lost interest in the issue as well.

    1. Independent1 March 1, 2014

      I’m not sure I’d agree with the comment “he’s lost interest”. But if anything, Obama is a realist and being one, he knows full well what Decker said at the end of the article:

      Even if Kirk does flip his votes and help the extension pass, it may be a hollow victory for the long-term unemployed. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives remains extremely unlikely to pass any unemployment bill that comes out of the Senate.

      When you’re trying your damndest to get the economy rolling and have an agenda just loaded with the issues related to doing that, why would you be trying to push an issue that’s most likely dead in the water. Obama trying to put more pressure on getting the unemployment benefits extended would be akin to the House voting 40 plus times to repeal Obamacare – a total waste of time AND MONEY. (None of these guys work for free even when they’re doing work that’s a foregone waste of time.)

      1. JD Mulvey March 3, 2014

        You’re free to your opinion. I stand by mine.

        Two million families in this country are feeling the brunt of what I call “disinterest” and you call “realism.” The choice of terms probably comes down to whether you’re one of them.

        1. Independent1 March 3, 2014

          Ahh! I see. I didn’t say there wasn’t a lot of disinterest within many in our government, but it’s not Obama. From you’re comment, I’m guessing you’re one of the millions of Americans who have their heads in the sand and can’t see the forest for the trees. And it’s not disinterest, it’s called OBSTRUCTIONISM!!.

          And it’s being perpetrated by virtually every member of the GOP who is refusing to allow anything to get moving that may improve things for us peons. Their simply hellbent of doing nothing but focusing on grandstanding and media shows called scandals just so they can keep on with their tomfollery of making it look like Obama is failing (which it appears you’re falling for head over heals) while the counry struggles to make progress; when if they’d get off their fat butts and do something, our economy could be really humming.

          1. JD Mulvey March 3, 2014

            Now I’m a tool of the right wing?? Go fuck yourself.

          2. Independent1 March 3, 2014

            Sorry if that’s the way my comments came across – it was not my intention to associate you with the right-wing one bit. I was only trying to point out that there are millions of Americans who really aren’t aware of just how hard Obama has been working to move America in the right direction while being totally blockaded by a GOP that’s hellbent on doing everything it can to make him fail.

            Obama has been working overtime trying to implement solutions around an obstructionist Congress to improve the economy; not only is has he taken by far the fewest vacation days of any recent president; he’s enacted a number of incentives himself that Congress won’t address.

            Here’s a link to some of his accomplishments – are you aware that his administration has accomplished all these things?


          3. JD Mulvey March 3, 2014

            Quit patronizing me. I’m fully aware of public affairs in this country –more than you are, apparently.

            Obama made two token mentions of the unemployment extension, once in his radio message that no on hears, and one line in his State of the Union speech.

            His ambivalence toward the issue signaled to members of Congress that this wasn’t a fight he was interested in pursuing –so of course they said, why should I stick my neck out? That’s when the bill died.

            Your screed about vacation days and other irrelevancies just display that you’re another political

            dilettante of the sort that the people of this country don’t need.

          4. Independent1 March 3, 2014

            Pure BS!!

            You’re no way near on top of things as you think. Obama has raised the issue at least 5 times and every time it has been received by the GOP with a thud!!

            Here’s the facts:

            On the day in December when the GOP first blocked the extension of UBs (I believe on 12/28), Obama held a news conference while in
            Hawaii condemning the GOP’s vote against extending UBs.

            On 1/3/2014 – in publicized accounts of Obama’s 1st cabinet meeting of the year, Obama made it clear that extending UBs was one of the major topics he would be discussing with the cabinet.

            On 1/4/2014 – In his weekly address to the nation, Obama called again for an extension of UBs:

            (CNN) — President Barack Obama on Saturday called for bipartisan legislation to extend unemployment insurance, an all-important
            benefit for the longtime out-of-work.

            “Just a few days after Christmas, more than 1 million of our fellow Americans lost a vital
            economic lifeline — the temporary insurance that helps folks make ends meet while they look for a job,” Obama said in his weekly address.

            “Republicans in Congress went home for the holidays and let that lifeline expire. And for many
            of their constituents who are unemployed through no fault of their own, that decision will leave them with no income at all.”

            On 1/7/2014 – Obama set up a special news conference to put the GOP in the spotlight as opposing an extension of UBs.

            USA Today – 1/7/14

            President Obama spends Tuesday on the first political fight of 2014 with congressional Republicans, a proposed extension of unemployment benefits.

            Obama will discuss the issue at a late morning event that includes people who saw their jobless insurance lapse at the turn of the year.

            Senate Republicans may block a final vote on the proposal, saying that a renewal of jobless benefits should be offset by cuts in other parts of the
            budget. That is also the position of the leadership in the Republican-run House. “Spending $6.5 billion in three months without trying to find ways
            to pay for it, or improve the underlying policy, is irresponsible and takes us in the wrong direction,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

            As you pointed out, during his State of the Union Address he called for extending UBs.

            On 2/6/14, even though Reid adjusted the
            legislation to have the UBs paid for, to satisfy the GOP’s supposed complaint, the GOP filibustered the legislation one more time:

            NY Times- February 6, 2014

            WASHINGTON — The Senate failed to move forward on a three-month extension of assistance
            for the long-term unemployed on Thursday, leaving it unlikely that Congress would approve the measure soon while undercutting a key aspect of President Obama’s economic recovery plan.

            Fifty-nine senators, including four Republicans, voted to advance the legislation, falling one vote short of the 60 needed to break a Republican filibuster effort.

            In a news conference after that vote, Obama once again condemned the GOP for failing to extend the UBs.

          5. VinnyFromIndy March 11, 2014

            Your arrogant ignorance is sublime!

          6. VinnyFromIndy March 11, 2014

            A fact? BS! The FACT is that this bill would have passed the Senate TWICE if the GOP had not obstructed using the filibuster TWICE. The FACT is that the GOP has repeatedly moved the goalposts as to what they would accept to pass the bill. The FACT is that extended benefits have NEVER been denied by either party since the UI program began until this year. The FACT is that Democrats have voted UNANIMOUSLY TWICE in the Senate to restore these benefits.

            Now, who are you calling “blind” again?

  7. voice_reason February 28, 2014

    it’s about time that democrats tsart following the republican playbook, dummies have played nice for too long

  8. Lovefacts February 28, 2014

    It’s past time the DNC played hardball. If we Democrats want to control the House and Senate, then this October & November, the DNC needs to run ads that shows how each Republican Congressman and Senator voted on or tried to change–not limited to–the following:
    1. Unemployment
    2. Food Stamps
    3. Minimum Wage
    4. Social Security
    5. Medicare
    6. Veterans benefits/medical care
    These ads can be targeted for the specific audience. In districts or states with high unemployment or underemployment, it’s numbers 1-3. In areas with high senior populations, it’s 2-5. Many seniors word at fast food joints to make ends meet and get food stamps. The youth #3. A high military population–active or retired–#1, 2, 3, 4, 6. Don’t forget, many military wives work at jobs that pay minimum wage.

    1. JD Mulvey February 28, 2014

      I agree completely. It’s disappointing that the Democrats seem to be conceding the House, solely based on the ‘analysis’ of a handful of beltway pundits who say it can’t be won.

      DC politicos are notoriously clueless about conditions on the ground in House districts –basically all they do is draw broad conclusions from voter registration numbers.

      Sorry guys, politics isn’t fantasy baseball, and it isn’t something you can do from a cubicle.

      Does anyone think that if the Republicans were 17 seats shy of a majority, they wouldn’t be putting serious money into swing districts, DC conventional wisdom be damned? I don’t. They’d be attacking the crap out of any Dem they thought they had any chance at.

  9. howa4x February 28, 2014

    Great it is time we fought back like the Koch bros do

  10. Barbara Morgan February 28, 2014

    Sorry but the bill had the 60 votes to pass and for reasons I do not understand Senator Harry Reid, Senate leader, changed his vote and that lost the super majority vote ( the stupidest rule in the world)when he did that. The Constitution says the most votes win so how do you explain to an eight year who just learned that one vote more that the other side cast means his side won the vote then sees on TV that unemployment won’t be extended because the vote for was 59 and the vote against was 41 so benefits aren’t extended why 41 votes win and 59 votes loses?

    1. JD Mulvey March 1, 2014

      You’re incorrect Barbara.

      The vote was only 58 in favor. The reason Reid was a “no” was that once the Democrats realized it was not going to get 60, he switched his vote to allow the bill to be reconsidered.

      Under parliamentary rules, only someone who votes with the winning side can move to reconsider a previous vote. Thus it is common if a bill is going to fail, for one of the leadership to switch a vote at the end, as Reid did, so that if they subsequently get another Senator to agree to vote yes, Reid’s able to make a motion to reconsider the earlier vote. If he hadn’t done that, the bill would have to go back to square one.

      1. Barbara Morgan March 1, 2014

        Thank for explaining why Reid changed his vote and he done it once before and I could not figure why or found out why he he did. The articles I read before posting had the numbers wrong, have to remember that next time reading articles from that site. I don’t recall the other side numbers, mind cloudy due an infection medication, But didn’t the numbers only add up to 97 votes, any idea who the 3 missing senators were?

  11. FT66 March 1, 2014

    I read Pres. Obama’s book how he was taught by his step father in Indonesia how to fight back when he is attacked. I know a lot of you have read this book: Dream from My Father”. We do not read such kind of books to know how it was, but also to apply the tactics. It is now time for Dems, after being hit so hard by republicans, to stand up firmly on own feet and fight back very hard. We can do it Dems. YES WE CAN!

  12. 3weeksfromhomelessness June 5, 2014

    I just called his office to inquire about his standings on EUC. I was basically told he drafted the bill that passed. I asked what is he doing now to assist in getting this bill passed. The gentleman on the phone said he did not know. I asked why Mr. Kirk has not been on any news station talking about getting this passed? Again he could give me no answer. Mr. Kirk this is your first term and I hope your last. I live in Rockford, Illinois and you sir will not be getting my vote! I ended the call more frustrated than when i dialed the number! I wished him well and told him I hope he has a back up plan if Mr. Kirk does not make it to a second term he will be looking for a job also!


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