This blog updates the one posted at this site on March 27, 2014 (see “That Didn’t Last Long”) and provides a commentary on what has now reached four Republican excuses for not acting on the Senate’s bill extending unemployment benefits for five months to two million out-of-work Americans.
Excuse #1: Speaker John Boehner lamented that even if the GOP-controlled House were to pass the bill, that would amount to a waste of time since an advocacy group has claimed that supplying the benefits retroactively couldn’t be implemented. Memo to Speaker…when you have an opportunity to help two million of your fellow citizens, you don’t throw your hands in the air and whine. No, as part of actually governing, you find a solution and make the problem with implementation disappear.
Excuse #2: From Boehner yet again. The House will consider the extension only if the Senate deals with the multiple “jobs bills” that were sent there by the House. This alibi prompts the question “What’s in those “jobs bills”? The answer is that they all involve the cutting of regulations and tax breaks for the job-providers. This is nothing more than another attempt by Republicans to push their provably failed “trickle-down” economic policy. Notice how this is suppose to work: Blessed with relief from regulations and taxation, employers will then take on more workers. In other words, there is no direct link from deregulation/tax breaks to job creation. It all depends on the willingness of the prospective employer to start hiring. Of course, that same person could just as easily say “Thanks, but demand for my goods or services still isn’t high enough for me to add more employees. So, much as I appreciate the loosening of regulations and the tax benefit, I ‘m not going to be adding staff.”
The foregoing stands in stark contrast to a jobs bill proposed by the president. It prompted the Congress to supply the funds necessary for the federal government to hire private companies with the expertise to take on additional work in the form of repairing our nation’s roads and bridges. Because the companies lack work forces of sufficient size to tackle these new projects, they must hire new workers. This approach has an historical precedent; i.e. it was used by President Roosevelt to help lift the country out of the Great Depression. Building the Holland Tunnel and Triborough Bridge in New York City, and the Grand Coulee Dam, were three such projects. They put thousands of men back to work. Naturally, since Obama suggested using this same approach, Republicans rejected it out of hand.
Excuse #3: “It’s too late”. Huh?? How is it too late to offer short-term assistance to two million Americans who have a history of gainful employment and remain actively engaged in job searchers? Indeed, they must meet both of those criteria or, by law, they would not qualify for benefits. This puts to lie conservatives’ claim that benefit recipients are deadbeats and slouches who would rather be on the dole than working. And, it’s worth noting that numbered among the two million are many veterans, some of whom have recently returned from Afghanistan and/or Iraq.
Excuse #4: Senate Republicans who opposed the bill justified that stance by asserting that they were not allowed to offer amendments to it. Now, that’s true enough. But, each amendment has to be debated and voted upon. To take that time while the unemployed continue to suffer without benefits is a perfect example of allowing an obsession with the perfect to become the enemy of the good.
Finally, when a party engages in a pattern of ginning up shifting, highly questionable excuses for not being proactive, you have to assume that something else is going on. In this case, it likely amounts to opposition to the Senate’s bill that, while garnering bipartisan support, was overwhelmingly a Democrats’ initiative. You can’t be handing the opposing party even a small victory in an election year. Well, now there should be two million unemployed who should have a valid reason for voting in November to change the composition of the House.