It is typical that when economically devastating events occur that affect big business and corporations it is front page news and dominates the 24/7 news cycle for days. However, if something happens that wreaks havoc on the population there is little notice in corporate-owned media because Republicans likely deliberately caused the damage. Over the weekend, another Republican assault on the people passed with hardly a mention despite well over a million Americans are slated to join 50 million Americans in the ranks of poverty. Of course, throughout all of 2013 Republican austerity decimated the people, so the lack of reporting on one more assault on the poor is likely business as usual and nothing to remark about. However, for the 1.3 million long-term unemployed who lost their benefits, and others approaching the end of their allotted time for regular benefits, the expiration date is an auspicious moment certain to cause more distress and despair that informs the causal effects of Republican economic policy.
On Saturday, 1.3 million Americans lost their unemployment benefits because Congress failed to extend the benefits before adjourning for the year. According to Democrats they tried in vain to include an extension in the bicameral budget deal going into effect next week, but Paul Ryan would not have it; not when he could lay waste to 1.3 million “takers.” Senate Democrats intend on broaching the subject of reinstating the extensions in two weeks, but Senate Republicans are still able to filibuster legislation, and House Republicans have said for a month that extending the benefits is wasteful and counterintuitive while job numbers improved and GDP rose in the third quarter. It is unlikely the unemployed will see any relief, particularly because John Boehner said he will not even consider extending the benefits, and if he did he demands equal cuts to other domestic programs. One thing Republicans can be counted on doing is causing economic damage for some segment of the population for the sake of austerity, sheer pleasure, and to avoid affecting the rich and corporations.
There were ulterior motives for Republicans to reject extending unemployment benefits besides sending well over 1.3 million Americans into poverty. The Council of Economic Advisers estimated that not extending the benefits will kill an extra 240,000 jobs in 2014 that is reason enough for Republicans to reject helping the already unemployed; especially if they can add a quarter-of-a-million Americans to the ranks of the unemployed. If that is not damage enough, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and JP Morgan projected that not extending benefits will cut from 0.2 to 0.4 percentage points off GDP growth that has been a recurring theme and feature of Republican austerity throughout 2013.
For example, Republicans benefited when they prevailed in the fiscal cliff deal last December because it took money out of the economy, slowed GDP growth, and cut the number of jobs that could have been created. Predictions at the time of the deal estimated it would shave between 0.4 and 0.6 percent off of GDP growth in 2013 as well as hamper job creation that could have trimmed the number of Americans requiring unemployment benefits. The sequester alone cost approximately 750,000 jobs that would have been created or retained if not for the cuts that could have seriously reduced the number of unemployed that lost benefits on Saturday. The CBO said between the sequester and other fiscal tightening due to Republican austerity measures, the cost to the economy was approximately 1 ¼ percentage points in growth over the course of 2013, and if Republicans had cancelled sequestration cuts the economy would have grown faster by about 0.6 of a percentage point and spared the loss of three-quarters-of-a-million jobs.
It is true third quarter statistics appeared to show improved growth in the economy, but the growth rate did not reflect true economic activity and primarily reflected businesses building up their inventories. The real gross domestic income, an alternative measure for GDP that measures all incomes of the economy, grew by a much lower 1.8% and not the 4.1% reported last week. Plus, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the economy remained about 3.1% below its potential output in 2013, and about 5 million jobs short of decent employment numbers according to the CBO. The loss in potential growth and job shortages are directly attributable to Republican austerity measures and their deliberate attempt to sabotage economic recovery with an African American man in the White House.
Republicans did more damage to the economy and increased the ranks of the unemployed when food stamp benefits were cut on November 1 by $5 billion that affected 47-million working, unemployed, elderly, and young Americans. It is true Republicans rejoiced that millions of Americans would have less food to eat, but the economic cost was far more than just taking $5 billion out of the economy and killing nearly 70,000 jobs. According to Moody’s Analytics, every additional dollar spent on food stamps generates approximately $1.74 in economic activity that JPMorgan Chase Chief Economist estimated cut 0.1% off the annual growth rate of the nation’s GDP in 2013. Of course Republicans are not as concerned about restricting economic growth and killing jobs as they are increasing the number of Americans living in poverty.
Any American that does not believe Republicans are not working to drive more Americans into poverty did not see Paul Ryan’s poverty advisor tell noted economist Robert Reich that he did not “think there’s much reason to be concerned about” income inequality strangling the economic life out of 98% of the population and creating poverty. The man advising Ryan, renowned for his defense of makers versus takers, said the remedy for the widening income gap sending Americans into poverty is more tax cuts for the rich and corporations. The idea that Ryan has a poverty advisor who is a fierce advocate of supply side trickle-down economics at the Manhattan Institute is a sign he is advising Republicans how to retard economic growth, kill jobs, increase the number of Americans in poverty through tax cuts for the rich and not investing in creating jobs and growing the economy.
According to the last election and recent polls, the overwhelming majority of Americans disagree with Republicans’ and their Draconian cuts to reduce the deficit instead of increasing taxes on the richest Americans. All the Republican austerity measures over the past year have hampered real economic growth, sent more Americans into poverty, and killed well over a million jobs that increased the number of unemployed Americans.
Republicans ended 2013 exactly the way they started it and have already indicated they are not about to change course in 2014. Without their sequester, job killing cuts, and economy retarding austerity economics the 1.3 million unemployed Americans would likely have jobs, but like their promised $40 billion cuts to food stamps, threats to extract more cuts in the next debt ceiling crisis, and counsel to get more tax breaks for the rich, the economy and jobs are going to continue suffering if for nothing else than to increase the income gap creating a population living in poverty. Americans can depend on the corporate-owned media to continue keeping devastating economic news out of the public consciousness because there is a midterm election on the horizon. The media is not about to damage Republican’s electoral chances by telling Americans the reason they are in poverty, not finding good jobs, and losing their unemployment benefits is because Republicans in Congress successfully executed their economic agenda.