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C&L Opening Bell: Mitt Romney's Ass-Tastic Idea For Unemployment Insurance Edition

Happy Wednesday, campers! Mitt Romney yesterday engaged in a pathetic pander to Dittohead Nation by honoring their time-honored tradition of trashing the unemployed. Let's take a look at what our pal Mittens had to say: The system is also not

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Happy Wednesday, campers! Mitt Romney yesterday engaged in a pathetic pander to Dittohead Nation by honoring their time-honored tradition of trashing the unemployed. Let's take a look at what our pal Mittens had to say:

The system is also not designed for a flexible economy like ours in which some employees move from job to job for short periods, and are therefore ineligible for unemployment compensation when they are faced with a protracted spell without work.

To remedy such problems we need a very different model, perhaps establishing individual unemployment savings accounts over which employees would exercise direct control when they lose their jobs, or putting in place financial incentives for employers to hire and train the long-term unemployed. One thing is certain: While we cannot rebuild our flawed system overnight, we are surely not required to borrow the funds to pay for it. In spending $56.5 billion to extend benefits, the deal is sacrificing the bedrock Republican principle that new expenditures be paid for with offsetting budget cuts.

That last sentence is the most hilarious pile of horses*** I've read in a long, long time. Let's go through some of the wonderful Republican initiatives over the past decade and see if they were offset by budget cuts:

  • The cost of extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich for the next two years will be $79 billion, or more than $20 billion more than the cost of extending unemployment benefits. Mittens sees no need to pay for these.
  • The Iraq war has cost us close to $750 billion. Did the GOP try to offset those costs with tax increases or budget cuts? Pffffffft!
  • And then there's TARP, the $700 billion bank bailout that had no guarantee of seeing any return on investment. Again, did the GOP insist on making cuts or raising taxes to pay for this? Nope.

So in Romney's world, government spending is only reckless if it benefits people who have lost their jobs. If it involves pointless wars, bank bailouts or tax cuts for Paris Hilton, though, it doesn't need to be offset by anything since all of those things are free. Why anyone takes this clown seriously -- or why Useless, Eh? Today felt the need to print his scribblings without the least bit of fact checking -- is beyond me.

Let's look at the rest of today's economic news:

  • First, some happy news:

    New government data released Tuesday bolstered retailers' hopes that consumers are shaking off the recession and pulling out their wallets just in time for the most critical sales months of the year.

    The Commerce Department reported a 0.8 percent increase in retail sales in November from the previous month, with big gains at clothing stores, sporting goods chains and department stores. It also revised its estimate for October upward, from a 1.2 percent gain to 1.7 percent.

    The strong results, combined with the recent stock market rally, prompted an influential industry trade group to raise its holiday sales forecast Tuesday. The National Retail Federation said it now predicts that November and December sales will grow 3.3 percent compared with last year, one percentage point higher than its original estimate.

    "It's been a while since we've really seen the retail industry drive strong economic growth," NRF spokesman Scott Krugman said. "Pent-up demand is meeting discounts, creating better than expected results for the holiday season.

    I'm skeptical that this can last beyond a one-month blip but any good news is more than welcome. It's nice to write about the economy without sounding like a Leonard Cohen song every day, you know?

  • More good news -- the lead AG on the Fraudclosure investigation wants to throw some of these SOBs in jail:

    The lead Attorney General of the 50-state foreclosure investigation, Iowa’s Tom Miller, said “We will put people in jail,” in response to questions during a meeting Tuesday with more than 100 people from 15 states representing community, faith, and labor organizations, foreclosure victims and struggling homeowners from across the country.

    Miller also agreed that principal reductions, loan modifications, and compensation for defrauded homeowners are necessary to clean up the mortgage mess created by the big banks.

    “One of the main tools needs to be principal reductions, just like in the farm crisis in the 1980s. There should be some kind of compensation system for people who have been harmed. And the foreclosure process should stop while loan modifications begin. To have a race between foreclosures and modifications to see which happens first is insane.”

    To me the practices of the banks and the mortgage industry have been so clearly fraudulent that I will be somewhat shocked if some of these clowns didn't go to jail. Forging affidavits is typically not something the government looks fondly upon and I hope it's no different in this case.

  • And hey, since we're on a happy news roll today, let's take in another one: Larry Summers has given his farewell speech! That means he's no longer working in government!

    The downside, of course, is that Tim Geithner's still there and I'm sure Obama will tap someone equally odious such as Roger Altman to replace him. Gotta get those Wall Street campaign donations back in line relationships with the business community in a better place, after all.

And that's about it for today, class, I'm letting you go a little early. And since my posting of Mendelssohn's violin concerto yesterday seemed to bring us some happier news, let's see if we can extend it by posting more cheerful classical music. This cheerful melody from "The Marriage of Figaro" is what I'll be humming on the first day the government makes arrests in the fraudclosure scandal:

See you tomorrow!

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