On Monday July 19 President Obama took to his "bully pulpit" to finally take the Republicans on for their unemployment obstruction. As a result of the "deficit hawks" in the Republican Party nearly 2.5 million long-term jobless Americans have missed unemployment checks in May, June, and July. Republican leadership claims that its true worry is about adding to America's bloated budget deficit; their actions prove that this is not the case.
When Republicans are taken to task regarding what they would actually cut in order to solve the deficit, as happened last weekend on <em>Meet The Press</em>, they have no answers. This is because they have no intention of reining in deficit spending. The only thing they care about is making the Obama administration look bad, and making the Democrats in Congress look ineffective.
According to <em>The Huffington Post</em>, Senate Republicans, joined by Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson, are blocking an unemployment extension that will cost the United States government $33 billion.
To most Americans $33 billion is a lot of money. In fact, $33 billion is a lot of money to anyone, even the wealthiest man or woman in the world. However, to the United States government $33 billion is pocket change. We spend that much money in Iraq and Afghanistan every two and a half months, fighting unwinnable wars against unknowable enemies.
Furthermore, cutting unemployment extensions for jobless Americans who are actively looking for work will not make a dent in our national debt or our annual deficit. According to an article written in January by <em>Agence France-Presse</em>, the projected budget deficit for 2010 was $1.349 trillion. By cutting unemployment we could shave that down to $1.316 trillion.
Is such paltry saving truly worth sacrificing millions of Americans to a life with zero income?
The answer, for the obstructionist Republicans, clearly is "yes".
By sacrificing millions of Americans they hope to campaign in 2010, 2012, and 2014 on the idea that President Barack Obama failed the American people.
This tactic worked, albeit on a smaller scale, during the 1994 midterm elections. Republicans spent the next 6 years doing everything they could to throw a wrench in the Clinton presidency including the failed attempt to remove the President of the United States from office for committing adultery, which is not a crime in the United States.
At this point the Republican unemployment filibuster is coming to a close, but the American people should not easily forget what could happen when partisan politics trump good policy.
The Democrats are not perfect; some of the policies concocted by Democratic leadership should be challenged or even blocked. But the American people cannot be used as a vote-getting lure.
In the past several months the Republican Party has shown that it has no intent to work with its opponents across the aisle to help America recover. It has no interest in helping us get fairer loans, cheaper medicine, or more robust financial regulations. It has no interest in stopping "free trade". It at times seems to have no interest in social justice or Constitutional rights. It simply wants to get back into power at all costs.
America cannot recover if half of the government is working to destroy the other half for its own gains.