The stock market may have set a record of sorts these past few days, but so has the nation's unemployment numbers as the disparity between rich and poor continues to expand like Rush Limbaugh's Sans-a-belts.
While the national number of long-term unemployed set yet another all-time record in March, the youngest generation of workers is suffering the largest unemployment rate in over 60 years. (Shhhhh . . . don't tell the Republicans, or they'll cook up another war to "occupy" our youth and strengthen the economy on their maimed and battle-broken bodies).
No wonder our young people are discouraged and apathetic; they are the first generation not expected to be as financially successful as their parents. They feel it, too. So many of our kids graduate with worthwhile degrees, only to be forced to return to their parents' homes. Then -- if they're lucky -- they find a stockroom job at the local Wal-Mart stacking boxes of made-in-China tee shirts next to men their father's age who lost their factory jobs and retirement benefits when their company relocated . . . to China, which for all practical purposes owns the US anyway. Hey, somebody's got to buy our debt. The only things we seem to be able to successfully export to Asia are our jobs and manufacturing centers.
Tens of thousands of Americans are suffering now with little hope for a timely economic recovery, so naturally the Republicans in Congress want to cut off whatever meager unemployment benefits are keeping these families alive on bread-and-mustard sandwiches. Sen. Tom Coburn (RichGuy/OK) has picked up the mantle left by Sen. Jim Tough Sh*t If You're Poor" Bunning (SuperRichGuy/KY) and promised to fight the proposed extension of unemployment benefits -- even to their own constituents. Not ironically, Kentucky and Oklahoma are two states that have been particularly devastated by the shipping of American jobs overseas.
But, this is just postponing a philosophical fight over a critical core reality that will not be resolved until both sides realize that the good ol' American system of predatory capitalism is rapidly and permanently destroying the middle class.
Most Republicans argue that cuts must be made in other programs to pay for the unemployment extension, instead of financing it by adding to the deficit. (Of course, they're not willing to cut their own wages or benefits.) Psssst . . . hey, Rich White Guys .. . while you're slashing the budget for education, infrastructure, and unemployment, take a looky at that GIANT ELEPHANT hiding behind a curtain in the corner, the one marked Defense Spending. (I know, I know . . . al Qaeda has 1/100,000,000,000th of our military power, financing, and nuclear capabilities, but they're out there . . . waiting . . . we gotta keep buying stealth bombers!)
Fortunately, there were four Republican senators with enough compassion -- or at least interest in reelection -- to reach the magical filibuster-proof 60 votes to end debate on the extension and grant the nation's desperate families a few more crumbs for a few more weeks.
"We're debating whether we take from those who come after us and give to those today," Coburn said, invoking a favorite GOP scare tactic of alluding to the evil socialist/Marxist/Communist intentions of pointy-headed liberal Democrats. He added that in Congress, "We're in the habit of not making hard choices. We're in the habit of doing the least best thing for our future."
Hard choices? Like whether to pay your electric bill, or buy your child's asthma medicine? A choice like that, Tom? Or, the choice you made to compromise the fiscal security of future generations by giving billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies to the oil industry? Or, the choice you made in 2005 and 2006 to vote yes on war supplemental bills that totaled over $180 billion, or Bush's bank bailout bills, or Bush's big tax cut bills, none of which was ever paid for.
The hardest choice you've made recently, Senator,is on which private island you'll take your next taxpayer-funded vacation.
So, when the Democrats introduced the "Pay-As-U-Go" bill, which
required that all future bills must have provisions that showed how the bills
would be paid for .. .why that's exactly what Coburn wanted, right? A
bill that says Congress cannot approve bills that aren't fully funded. Guess
how he voted on that one.
To quote a favorite phrase of yours, Tom: Come November, you'll have a lot of 'splainin' to do . . .