You’re out of touch, I’m out of time – Hall and Oats
Yesterday, the US unemployment rate reached its highest level since 1992. 600,000 jobs were reported lost in the previous month. There has been no significant job creation since January of 2007. We’ve experienced two years of stagnant or increasing unemployment. (Source)
The reality is far worse. The Real unemployment rate, the rate that not only accounts for new job losses and current claims, but also those who have lost unemployment benefits is hovering around 13%.
With unemployment running rampant and with no sign of slowing, and an economic recession making the hope of any new hiring a pipe dream, making sure that the people who are getting left behind, through no fault of their own, might be a pretty big priority right?
Since HR 1 passed the House, Republicans in the Senate have been railing against the bill. Of chief concern to the Republicans has been some $5 billion of supposedly “pork barrel” projects contained in the original $800 billion dollar stimulus. .7% of a package designed to provide assistance to the people who have suffered at the hands of irresponsible management and absent regulation has been screwing it up for the 3.6 million people who have lost their jobs in the past 12 months, and the likely several million more who will lose their jobs in the upcoming months.
.7% of one of the largest, most comprehensive stimulus package of my lifetime, is being held hostage by 41 individuals more interested in furthering their ideology than helping the average Americans who have been hurt by a former Administration’s policy where ideology trumped common sense in nearly every case. Arguing for more tax cuts, focused once again on those who need the money least, the Republicans in the Senate have used straw man argument after straw man argument to derail the process, and have been largely successful.
This rejection of everything the recent election was about amounts to a minority of ideologues holding the fate of millions of Americans hostage to petty differences. As of yesterday afternoon, the bill looked stalled, a cadre of amendments seeking to diminish the impact of the bill snarling the process. Last night, details emerged of a coalition that might just push the legislation through.
A bi-partisan “gang”, has come together to help get the stimulus bill passed. This “gang” led by Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson, and joined by Republicans Olympia Snowe (ME), Susan Collins (ME) and Arlen Specter (PA) has, to quote Senator Nelson, “…trimmed the fat, fried the bacon and milked the sacred cows.”
I’m not sure what the Senate’s fascination is with creating the legislative equivalent of thuggish and mildly terroristic coalitions, but the nearly $100b in cuts to the bill before the Senate includes huge cuts in unemployment benefits and $60b in funds to stabilize state governments who are suffering through the recession, and often cannot engage in deficit spending.
The hope of “Post-Partisanship” has been dashed by a minority caucus in the Senate and House, hell bent on maintaining ideology over effectiveness. The effect, a bill that will help some just enough to need more help, and leave state governments in a financial bind that cripples their ability to provide the additional help that the original stimulus needed.
We have to start asking ourselves several questions:
1. Why is it, that when it comes to “compromise” the only ones interested in real “compromise” are the Democrats? When Republicans talk compromise, they mean, “do it our way”
2. After eight years of some of the most bitter and divisive partisanship in US history, initiated and led by the Republican Party, which resulted in the most stunning reversal of power in the Senate over two elections since before the “Contract on America”, why are Republicans holding on to their partisanship and ideology so tightly over seeking solutions?
3. Does anyone in the House or the Senate Republican caucus really have any clue what the hell is going on outside of their bubble?
Republicans have to start asking themselves these questions if they don’t want to be marginalized by a “supermajority” in the US Senate in two years. I personally hope they don’t ask themselves this question. They’re out of touch, we’re running out of time, and I’ll be out of my head with happiness when fewer of them are around.
In the mean time, we’ve got people out here that are hurting. We need to get this bill, even in it’s weakened form, out there to stimulate the economy and help people in need. If we don’t do this soon, the fruits of this Republican obstruction will be born in the form of double digit new unemployment and 20% REAL unemployment. I don’t think ANY ideology supports that.