Unemployment Benefits Stop But Congress’ Stupidity Doesn’t

By Richard Thayer

I guess I really should stop watching the news and reading it because what I see and read makes my blood boil. It cuts down on the cost of heating my house, but I’m taking more blood pressure medicine. So I guess it all evens out.

But if I didn’t keep tabs on what’s happening, especially in our dysfunctional Congress, I would be what Craig Schadewald identified earlier on this site, an ostrich. Nothing like hiding your head in the sand while someone is kicking you vigoriously in the butt.

The unemployment rate has now risen to 9.8 percent from 9.6 in October.  In addition to that horrible fact, the lame ducks in Congress have allowed the benefits to our nation’s unemployed to lapse, just as they did this past summer.

There are nearly 39,000 Americans losing their unemployment benefits daily. This week 800,000 Americans, our neighbors, received their last unemployment check. By the end of the year 2 million people will have lost their benefits. There will be another 1 million without money to pay for their housing, food, medicine, etc, in January.

So how is Congress addressing the problem? They’re haggling over the Bush tax cuts. The Democrats want to extend the tax cuts for those making up to $250,000. According to polls, most Americans agree that the tax cuts should be extended for the middle class and should lapse for the nation’s millionaires and billionaires. But the Republicans, and a few conservative Democrats, say oh no, that’s penalizing the rich for being wealthy. We mustn’t do that. It’s either everyone gets a tax break, or no one. It’s all or nothing.

In an effort to “compromise,” one Senator has even introduced a bill having the extensions extended to a million dollars, hoping that would appease the opposition. No deal. The incoming Speaker of the House, John Boehner, calls it “chicken crap.” There’s a name for what he and others are doing in Congress, but it’s not chicken crap. It starts with bull.

The AFL-CIO has made a video available and even has a letter you can edit, sign and send to your congressman/congresswoman telling them to extend the unemployment benefits to those who are facing a mighty bleak Christmas and new year.

You can view the video here.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and pop another blood pressure pill.

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