Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Economic Impasse

For the first time in the history of our nation, the United States Congress has allowed unemployment benefits to run out for 2.5 million Americans with the unemployment rate this high (currently at 9.6%).

The Democrats in Congress and the Obama administration strongly support an extension, but don’t have the votes to get it passed. The republicans are once again holding important legislation hostage as they stomp their feet, demanding their way and refusing to compromise, like petulant children. They want a tax cut for the millionaires and billionaires of this country, and if that means holding unemployment benefits and middle class tax cuts hostage to try to get it, they’re fine with that.

Yesterday, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” commentator Mike Barnicle asked Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ), “I keep hearing from several Republicans that they would vote for the extension of unemployment benefits, which are to expire today, if those unemployment benefits are paid for, and yet these same Republicans that they will vote to extend all the Bush tax cuts when those are unpaid for. So my question to you is in this lame duck session that we’re approaching would you vote for the extension of unemployment benefits, right now, today? Up or down, yes or no?”

To which Shadegg replied, “If they were paid for and if we extend the tax cuts. The issue is jobs. Come on…the American people sent this message pretty clearly. They want us focused on getting this economy going and I’m sorry that you can’t see that helping people with unemployment AND not enacting massive new tax increases, which will damage the job creation market are linked. They make sense together. Of course Republicans don’t want to tax the job creators because that will bring revenue down.”

Barnicle then said, “Well what about the fact that unemployment benefits pumped into the economy are an immediate benefit to the economy?”

“No they’re not. Unemployed people hire people? Really? I didn’t know that.” Shadegg sneered scornfully.

“Unemployed people spend money, Congressman. Because they have no money.” Barnicle replied.

Shadegg responded, “Ah ha…so your answer is that it’s the spending of money that drives the economy and I don’t think that’s right. It’s the creation of jobs that drives the economy.”

It absolutely amazes me that a United States Congressman doesn’t understand that the spending of money IS the economy. It is the spending of money that drives the creation of jobs. A company will not create jobs if they have no customers and are making no money, regardless of how many tax cuts they may get. Small businesses don’t hire because they’re given a tax cut and decide to share the prosperity…they hire people because business is good and they need the help…because their customers are SPENDING money. If their customers have no money to spend, then the company won’t hire and everything will spiral downward that much further, which is personally what I believe the Republicans are hoping to accomplish.

Shadegg then said “The truth is that the unemployed will spend as little of that money as they possibly can.” This statement told me (and Mr. Barnicle) that Mr. Shadegg has never been unemployed (or is so well off that, even if unemployed, that he didn’t rely on his unemployment for subsistence as most of the unemployed in this country do).

“The issue is, do we want to continue to do what the current administration and the current congress has done, which is ignore the issue of jobs and increase taxes and not focus on the needs of the American people or do we want to try something that might work like not increasing taxes on the economy. This is a tax increase in a down economy.” Shadegg continued.

“You still haven’t told me how unemployed people create jobs. Look we’ve been doing what you proposed that we continue to do, raising unemployment benefits and extending them. You’ve been doing this and doing this for years,” Shadegg said, as he broke into raucous laughter.

NO, Congressman Shadegg, what we've had "for years" is these tax cuts for the wealthy, and what we've learned is that they do NOT "create jobs" nor do they help the economy in any it's time to STOP doing what we've been "doing for years" and that is giving tax breaks to millionaires.  It's YOUR policies that have been tried and failed "for years" Congressman let's stop them now.  What your side has been doing "for years" is the same thing you're doing now...siding with the rich at the expense of the rest of us and being obstructionists...neither are working for the country...please stop NOW!

See the whole Shadegg appearance at:

Later on in that same show, a Republican Congressman from Illinois named Schock was asked the same question by Barnicle and got pretty much the same, pat Republican talking point answer, saying “Most economists believe it is a bad idea to raise taxes on anyone in a down economy. So you can argue about whether or not we need the revenue, but I would argue that we need the growth in our economy. We need the job creators, those small business people to hire, if we’re ever going to get out of the deficit situation that we’re in.

To which Eugene Robinson said, “If we’re going to start quoting economists here , ALL economists agree that it’s a bad idea to cut off unemployment benefits in a down economy because the money gets spent. And how does it create jobs? Well, people spend money at small businesses and big businesses which allows them to employ people and to take that money out of the economy, every economist agrees, has a much more immediate effect.”

At this point Mika butted in and made some inane comment about both sides having a point, (which I think is total crap in some cases, both sides don't ALWAYS "have a point") which ended this discussion flow, when personally, I would have LIKED to hear the congressman’s response to that…because I think it would have simply been more postulating and millionaire talking points and would have helped to show his side up for what it is.

Buchanan then asked Schock what if a compromise was offered…what if the President said “it’s not going to be $250,000, let’s take it up to a million. We’ll extend tax cuts for everybody who makes less than a million dollars if you guys will only let the taxes rise to their former level on millionaires. Will the Republicans compromise on that, or will they let the middle class tax cut go under rather than compromise?”

“I don’t think there is support in our conference to do that.” Schock replied, but that they did hope for a compromise.

To which Buchanan asked, “What’s the compromise?”

“The compromise is a full extension at current rates, no tax increases for any American for two years.”

At which even Buchanan laughed and said “that’s not a compromise, that’s a victory.”

I think that Eugene Robinson summed it up best when he said, “I haven’t seen a single public opinion survey anywhere that suggests that Americans disagree with the basic premise … extend the middle class tax cuts, but the upper income tax cuts we can do without. Every poll I have seen taken by every pollster says that. So, let’s be honest about where people stand on this.” At which point the program changed the subject to suddenly start discussing the Wikileaks situation (which I personally think has been an overblown distraction being used to attempt to embarass the Obama administration).

To see the full segment with Congressman Schock go to:

I called my congressman’s office to tell him what I believe the solution to this matter is, not that I think it will do any good…he’s a good little GOPer and will do whatever the GOP leadership tells him to. As far as I’m concerned, the only satisfactory solution in this situation is that the unemployment benefits should, of course, be immediately extended. As far as the tax cuts are concerned, the cuts for everyone making under $250,000 should be made permanent. Those for everyone making between $250,000 and $1,000,000, can be temporarily extended for two years (THAT is the "compromise"). For those making over a million, those cuts need to sunset. Clearly they have NOT helped to create jobs at ALL, but rather have only helped to increase the deficit.

The hypocrisy of the Right  is absolutely sickening (hypocrisy seems to be the ONE thing about the GOP these days that is consistent) on the issue of ONLY extending unemployment (which is DESPERATELY needed by those who draw it) IF it’s paid for, but the tax cuts for millionaires (who do NOT need them) can be done WITHOUT being paid for. Can someone PLEASE help me understand why keeping an unemployed family afloat canNOT be done “on credit”, but making rich people richer can? I simply don’t understand.

There is no reason that millionaires cannot pay the same rates that they paid under President Clinton…prosperous years when everyone was doing well…that’s a time I’d like to go back to. And as I’ve said before, if I had a million dollars, I would be MORE than happy to pay 40% of it to help/support my country, and I simply don’t understand the selfishness of those who feel otherwise.

Please Democrats…don’t capitulate on this…no tax cuts on credit for millionaires!

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