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Recently it has seemed that when we elected Claire McCaskill, we got a Republican in sheep’s clothing. First it was her FISA vote; later, after a promising start, she hedged on the public option. Then, because Missouri is evidently a fiefdom of Peabody coal which expects tribute from its political vassals, she dutifully bad-mouthed cap-and-trade. Most recently, she has been working overtime to make sure that the Tea Party leaning folks back home don’t forget that she is one fiscally conservative gal – in ways that may well hinder the country’s economic recovery.

Last week she was one of five Democrats who joined with Republicans to defeat the Murray-Kerry amendment, which would have extended two provisions of last year’s stimulus bill. The measure would have provided summer jobs for young people this year and an extension of enhanced subsidies for poor families with children. This action comes smack, dab in the middle of a major employment crisis when congress needs to be paying attention to jobs.

Instead, among the programs that McCaskill helped Republicans block, was the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF) emergency fund, a program funding that would have eventually subsidized 100,000 jobs. According to Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of Economic Policy Institute, the two  provisions of the defeated amendment together would have been:

…more efficient at creating jobs than the much-ballyhooed new hires tax credit introduced by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

McCaskill clings to her fiscally responsible shtick as if it’s a political life-raft. There might be times, given the makeup of her constituency, when we could put up with all this please-God-don’t-let-them-think-I’m-a-tax-and-spend-liberal pandering, but right now is not one of them. We desperately need politicians with the courage to do the right thing no matter the political consequences, and, as far as I am concerned, McCaskill just blew one more chance to show that she has the right stuff.