Many Americans have experienced a mean-spirited person that goes out of their way to minimize a co-worker’s stellar job performance to deflate their feeling of accomplishment, and if it was within their power, they would deliberately sabotage their co-worker and inform management that the person they just singled out for acknowledgment was a drag on the company to get their co-worker demoted or fired. It happens in families with jealous siblings, in team sports, and it has been happening in the United States’ Congress. Leave it to Republicans to take recent good news on the economic front to undermine President Obama’s handling of the economy, sabotage the recovery, and kill more jobs to create the illusion Democrats need to be voted out of Congress.
For five years, Republicans have deliberately obstructed economic recovery and used it to their advantage to take control of the House after the 2010 midterm elections despite the President and Democrats saved and turned the economy around after 8 years of Republican malfeasance. The recent encouraging reports on jobs and economic growth has given Republicans the impetus to undermine the recovery by killing more jobs and preventing future hiring to blame the President and Democrats for the GOP’s handiwork. Republicans are signaling that, as the end of the year looms, they will take extraordinary measures to obstruct the recovery in several ways, and besides being un-American, they are revealing their growing animus toward the American people. Not only do they see a way to slow the recovery, take money out of the economy, and kill more jobs, they see a way to add well over 2 million Americans to the poverty ranks and stay on schedule dismantling the middle class for their libertarian money machine.
In President Obama’s Saturday radio address, he clearly stated the reasons why it is economically prudent to extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, and although it was a waste of words on callous Republicans, he appealed to whatever humanitarian sensibilities Republicans may still have. He said, “more than one million of our fellow Americans are poised to lose a vital economic lifeline just a few days after Christmas if Congress doesn’t do something about it. We offer temporary unemployment insurance so that job-seekers don’t fall into poverty, and for many families, it can be the difference between hardship and catastrophe. Last year alone, it lifted 2.5 million people out of poverty, and if members of Congress don’t act before they leave on their vacations, 1.3 million (2.15 million) Americans will lose this lifeline including 20,000 veterans who’ve served this country with honor. Extending unemployment insurance isn’t just the right thing to do for our families; it’s the smart thing to do for our economy.”
The President is right and Republicans know it, but he needed to counter Republican claims that letting benefits expire is good for the economy and the long term unemployed. Libertarian teabagger Rand Paul said “extending jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed does them a disservice.” Speaker John Boehner used the recent job reports to justify not extending unemployment benefits and said “the positive signs should discourage calls for more emergency government ‘stimulus, what our economy needs is more solutions that get government out of the way.” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said the solution was to get more unemployed Americans back to work, and yet House Republicans have obstructed and rejected job creation measures in lieu of killing jobs that has prevented a truly robust recovery that would get more jobless Americans back to work. In fact, Republicans likely plan to let unemployment benefits lapse after Christmas to hinder the President’s recovery and kill more jobs because they certainly read the same CBO reports the President does.
The CBO reported that “Recipients of the additional benefits would increase spending on consumer goods and services; that increase in aggregate demand would encourage businesses to boost production and hire more workers than they otherwise would.” In fact, in the President’s radio address, he said “the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office predicted that allowing benefits to expire will be a drag on our economic growth and a report by the Department of Labor estimated that it would cost businesses 240,000 jobs. When people have money to spend on basic necessities, that means more customers for our businesses and, ultimately, more jobs; and we need to do everything we can to help businesses create more good jobs that pay good wages even faster.”
The President also said “For decades, Congress has voted to offer relief to job-seekers – including when the unemployment rate was lower than it is today because it makes it easier for businesses to attract more customers, and our economy to grow.” A handy chart reveals what the President said is absolutely correct. A report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that America is still facing a jobs “emergency” even though the economy is recovering; particularly for the long-term unemployed. In each of the previous three recessions, federal unemployment benefits for unemployed Americans did not end until the long-term unemployment rate had dropped to around 1.3% percent. At the moment, although the long-term unemployment rate is falling, it is still at 2.6% and it is as high at any point since World War II, and although it was 2.6% in 1983, Reagan kept benefits in place for an additional year-and-a-half. Apparently, Republicans have a different agenda with an African American man sitting in the Oval Office than a white B-movie actor.
As it stands today, there are a little over five unemployed workers for every open job, so the economy would have to add at least 8 million jobs immediately to reach pre-recession levels, and yet while Republicans have claimed for three years job creation was their highest priority during the 2010 midterm elections, they have opposed every single one of the President’s job creation measures, not created one single job, and taken great pride in killing millions of jobs and saying “so be it.” Their cavalier attitude towards killing jobs is only matched by their apparent glee at preventing job creation and it explains their opposition to extending jobless benefits to prevent 240,000 prospective jobs in the coming year in addition to the 200,000 jobs lost by letting unemployment benefits expire at Christmas.
It was a relative certainty that Republicans would use the recent good news on the economy, both GDP growth and job numbers, as a reason to find new ways to thwart the recovering economy and kill more jobs. That has, after all, been their sole purpose of serving in Congress since they plotted to obstruct President Obama’s economic agenda the day he was inaugurated in January 2009. It was definitely not a surprise that Speaker Boehner parroted the Reagan-GOP-Koch mantra that the key to creating jobs and a robust recovery was “more solutions that get government out of the way.” The only reason there has been a recovery from the Bush-Republican economic devastation was the President Obama’s government stimulus that has led to more than 8 million new jobs over the past 45 months that dwarfs the worst job creation record on record of less than 3 million jobs during 8 years under Bush-Republicans.
What is telling is that Republicans are using a bit of good economic news to send 2.15 million Americans into poverty ranks, kill 200,000 current jobs and another 240,000 over the next year as a result of letting long-term unemployment benefits expire. It is true Republicans have never needed a reason to kill jobs over the past three years they have had control of the House, and it is really little surprise they are using encouraging economic news to kill even more, but that they have the temerity to claim they are doing the long-term unemployed a service by keeping government out of the way just reinforces what most Americans already know; they are “mean-spirited government employees” deliberately sabotaging President Obama’s success, economic recovery, and over 2 million Americans’ hopes of staying out of poverty.