It is hard to believe, as the holidays approach yet again amid economic hard times, but Congress looks as if it may let federal unemployment benefits lapse for the fourth time this year. — Nov. 28 New York Times editorial
No, it is not hard to believe, not unless you’re naive enough to think the ugly old white men who run the Republican Party would consider placing the needs of millions of poor people ahead of the wishes of the billionaires who are their benefactors and bosses. Not unless you don’t understand that Republicans will block any economic stimulus plans that aren’t tied to continued bonus tax cuts for the wealthy.
Here’s what didn’t happen this week: legislation to help the two million people who might soon join the four million who’ve exhausted unemployment claims and the God-knows-how-many millions who’ve been jobless for so long that bean counters simply ignore them. The newbies would be jobless in a country where the official jobless rate is now at 9.8 percent. (The unofficial rate is twice as high.)
Here’s what else didn’t happen: an agreement to end “temporary” bonus tax cuts for the wealthy that were pushed through early in the George W. Bush administration. Republicans blocked an end to the cuts even though extending them will add more than $80 billion to the national debt in two years, will not stimulate economic growth, and will defy the majority of Americans who want bonus tax cuts for the wealthy to end.
The vote was yet another defeat for the Dems who, despite significant majorities in the House and Senate, have for two years done almost nothing to create jobs for those put out of action by the ongoing economic meltdown that started in 2008.
The upshot is no tax-cut extensions for the less than super-wealthy (couples who make $250,000 or less), and no benefits extensions or jobs programs for the unemployed — not without extended tax cuts for the wealthy. The non-wealthy are essentially being held hostage by the uglies, who answer to the billionaires.
But I don’t blame the uglies — they are merely doing what ugly people do. The people who deserve blame and ought to be ashamed are President Obama and the Democrats in Congress who didn’t push legislation to combat unemployment and end bonus tax cuts when such efforts might have succeeded. At the latest, this should have happened a few weeks before the midterm elections, in order to signal voters that there was still a difference between the parties. Now many of the Dems are lame ducks and have only a few days left to make a difference.
A clarification on ugliness: Yes, there are probably equal numbers of unfortunate looking male Democrats and Republicans in Congress. However, unfortunate looking isn’t the same as ugly, which entails an ungenerous mindset and meagerness of spirit. Using these criteria, I challenge anyone to debunk my claim that Republicans are uglier than Democrats. Ladies and gents, take the human tortoise Mitch McConnell — please. You can also have John McCain, Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn, Jim Bunning, Roy Blunt, James Inhofe, Richard Shelby and Joe Lieberman (the latter used to be a Democrat but is so ugly, he had to become an independent.) Look up the voting records of these guys, they’re even uglier than you think.
Quotation of the week: “Beauty is only skin-deep, but ugliness cuts straight to the bone.” — anonymous Southwest Philadelphia sage