On Tuesday, the US Senate narrowly approved debate on a temporary extension of unemployment insurance benefits (UIBs) to over one million jobless Americans, giving some unexpected momentum in the new year to the Democrats and the Obama administration. The vote to approve debate was 60-37. With six Republicans and all present Democrats backing the move to begin formal debate on the bill, supporters reached the 60 votes required to advance it with no room to spare. The measure, sponsored by Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jack Reed (D-RI), would retroactively restore federal aid payments to about 1.3 million long-term unemployed Americans that expired at the end of last year. Previously, that aid kicked in after state benefits expired, after about 26 weeks in most states.
Five Republicans joined Heller to support moving forward on the legislation… Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Dan Coats of Indiana, and Rob Portman of Ohio. Those lawmakers… who said they want leaders to find a way to offset the cost of the federal benefits… mightn’t support final passage of the bill. However, their support Tuesday kept the legislation alive, despite last-minute doubts that the procedural vote would pass. Senator Harry Reid told reporters after the vote, “It was in the balance until the last minute”. If the final bill does pass the Senate, it’s not clear that the GOP-led House would take it up. House Republican leaders painted the current proposal as fiscally irresponsible. In a statement, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said that any extension of the program must be paid for and contain House-backed job creation plans, saying, “One month ago, I personally told the White House that another extension of temporary emergency unemployment benefits shouldn’t only be paid for but include something to help put people back to work. To date, the president has offered no such plan”.
Senate opponents of the measure said that they never intended that the emergency aid programme, first enacted during the height of the economic recession, be permanent, and that spending cuts elsewhere in the budget should offset the aid. In a statement, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), said, “Spending 6.5 billion USD (216 billion Roubles. 7.03 billion CAD. 7.28 billion AUD. 4.8 billion Euros. 4 billion UK Pounds) 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”. Earlier Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposed paying for the insurance extension by delaying a key mandate in the president’s health care law, a major Republican aim, and a clear non-starter with Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Reid immediately rejected that proposal as a mere “guise to obstruct”.
Outside rightwing groups like the political arm of the Heritage Foundation and the anti-tax Club for Growth had also urged a “no” vote on Monday’s procedural measure, calling the extension proposal fiscally irresponsible. Supporters… including the White House… argued that the abrupt end to the benefits on 28 December plunged long-term jobless into further desperation and would hurt the American economy if it’s not reversed by a retroactive extension. Senator Reid said, “This investment in our fellow Americans is one of the most effective ways to spark and sustain an economic recovery”. He accused Republicans who opposed the legislation of “callously turned their backs on the long-term unemployed”. US President Obama planned to speak about the unemployment insurance extension shortly after the Senate vote. He’s sure to paint the GOP as out of touch with Americans concerned about income inequality and the plight of the working poor, issues that Democrats believe would mobilise their political base in 2014 and beyond.
7 January 2014
Voice of Russia World Service
There are three simple things that the Congress can do to get the money to fund UIB extensions:
- Abolish the Bush tax cuts for all those making over 1 million USD (33.2 million Roubles. 1.08 million CAD. 1.12 million AUD. 736,000 Euros. 610,000 UK Pounds) a year from whatever source (earned, corporate, or capital gains)
- Tax capital gains at the same rate as earned income
- Remove the cap on FICA taxes (and extend them to capital gains earnings)
This won’t happen. The Republican Party has become the willing running dog of the rich… the so-called “conservative” movement is just a bunch of political hacks in the pay of the American oligarchs (through campaign contributions unleashed by the immoral and basically-illegal Citizens United decision… corporations AREN’T people, and anyone who says such is a loon). In short, the GOP has become a criminal organisation in objective terms… as it advocates policies that were illegal prior to 1980. Those regulations and laws were in place to prevent another Great Depression. What was the result of this Republican slide into criminality? The Great Recession, that’s what. Note well that the rich REFUSE to help those hurt by their rapacious policies. Indeed, they want to stamp on those hurt by their greed even more. Such policies are evil… and no Christian or decent person can support them, and it doesn’t matter how “pro-life” the Republican Party is. The GOP’s pro-life stance is hypocritical and empty… their intent to protect the rich and stamp on the poor to do so is all too real and all too heartfelt.
Orthodox people should watch the Unholy Trinity… Bilirakis, Issa, and Amash… watch ‘em all vote against UIB extension in the House. None call it evil, none call it satanic, none call it godless… but it is, and in spades. It’s time for REAL Orthodox Christians to oppose these jerks and their konvertsy supporters. Don’t forget that Orthodox people were in the forefront of the labour movement. Some of us haven’t forgotten that (and I’m not alone… the Obama bumper stickers outnumbered the GOP ones by a huge margin at St T’s on Memorial Day)…