Thanks, Sen. Stabenow, it's nice to know someone has a clue. But what about the Speaker of the House? I know Nancy Pelosi can change minds, because we saw the work she did on the health care bill. And I even understand the struggle she has with lily-livered House members who are much more interested in winning than helping the unemployed.
But I have to ask, once again: If the Democrats don't stand for helping the victims of this economic depression, if they don't stand for protecting the people who need it most, what, exactly, do they stand for?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Congress will not take up any measure to give the long-term jobless more weeks of unemployment benefits beyond the 99 weeks available in some states.
Congress is currently locked in an epic battle just to preserve the 99 weeks for the rest of the year. In a seemingly futile effort to appease deficit hawks, Dem leadership already weakened its "extenders bill," formally known as the American Jobs and Closing Loopholes Act, by shortening the unemployment extension through November instead of December.
Hundreds of thousands of people, however, have already exhausted 99 weeks of benefits with no jobs in sight. Thousands signed a petition to demand Congress add a "Tier V" to the four tiers of benefits that currently make up the 99 weeks.
A reporter asked Pelosi at her weekly press conference if there were any plans to help the 99ers.
"No. This bill will go until the end of November, at that time we'll take up something, but not between now and then," said Pelosi (D-Calif.). "The situation I see is that members who are from low unemployment areas are very concerned about the deficit. Members who are from high unemployment areas are very concerned about jobs. So we have to come to a compromise as to how to move forward, and we did with this bill going to November."
But come November, if Congress takes up anything related to unemployment, it will most likely be another temporary extension of existing benefits. The extension under consideration this week is the fourth in the last six months. And while a handful of senators have pledged to constituents that they will fight for more weeks of benefits, Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has said that "99 weeks is sufficient."
Well, yes, Max. I'm sure for you, it is sufficient. Of course, you probably don't even know that people like me who were collecting the maximum benefit ran out at 72 weeks, nor do you care. But don't expect us to care about you, either. Buh bye, DSCC! Buh bye, mid-term elections!
Here's more evidence of the Democratic party's concern for the unemployed:
WASHINGTON – Laid off workers would lose subsidies to help buy health insurance and states would be denied billions in federal aid under a plan by House leaders Thursday to trim a bill extending jobless benefits.
Democrats struggled to extend jobless benefits for people who have been out of work for long stretches as lawmakers worried about the growing budget deficit balked at the price tag of the package.
The cuts would reduce the package by about $31 billion, to about $112 billion. Business tax increases would pay for some of the bill, which would still add more than $50 billion to the deficit.
[...] When the subsidy was first enacted, Congress estimated it would benefit 7 million laid-off workers and dependents. It would have cost $6.8 billion to extend it through November.
Democratic leaders have also proposed eliminating $24 billion in aid to cash-strapped states to help cover Medicaid expenses, Cuellar said. Congress increased the federal government's share of the federal-state insurance program for the poor last year.
Oops! There goes that touching concern about healthcare coverage for those hit hardest in these hard times. No Medicaid money? Oh well, those people should just die and decrease the surplus population.
What will it take to make the Democratic leadership understand that their half-assed attempts to win the mid-term elections are the very same tactics that will convince so many voters to stay home on Election Day?
We have a seemingly endless supply of money for war. Why are we so very thrifty when it comes to this economic disaster?