Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Senate Unemployment Extension Reaches Cloture

...yesterday by a 60-40 vote. The Senate votes on its final version today.

It was the closest you could get to a hard line party vote without actually having one. Maine's Republican Senators Snowe and Collins voted to extend benefits and were joined by both independents Joe Lieberman of CT and Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Ben Nelson of Nebraska did as Ben Nelson of Nebraska usually does and sided with the Republicans knowing fully good and well the opposition didn't have the votes to deny cloture.

Once the extension bill passes in the Senate, all that remains is for Congress to pass the reconciled bill and for President Obama to sign it into law. That should be a mere formality as both the House (which passed its version before the week-long summer recess) and Senate had drafted stripped-down versions of the bill that doesn't include provisions for job creation or tax incentives for businesses.

While Republicans were dicking around and affecting faux outrage over red ink, approximately 2,000,000 people (or 182,000 people a week) had lost their unemployment benefits since early April's eight week-long extension expired on May 1st. The current bill will reinstate benefits for many for at least 16 weeks at a weekly average of $309.

Since it can be reliably posited that virtually every penny of the money that will be disbursed, hopefully, by this week will make a bee-line straight into the economy, that means Republicans and a handful of Blue Dog Democrats like Ben Nelson deprived the American economy of over $6,000,000,000 since the unemployment bill was stalled.

Assuming that 182,000 people per week had lost their benefits, let's multiply that by 11 weeks, prorated by those 182,000 unemployed workers and subtracting $56,238,000 each week (what their $309 in weekly benefits would've come to) and that comes out to $6,179,383,000 or almost 6.2 billion starved from the national economy since these benefits expired week by week.

This, in turn, places additional burden on the states and districts they represent. Local food banks, city shelters, welfare agencies are also feeling the pinch from being asked to take up the slack. Utility companies, their bills going unpaid, were also deprived from operating revenue. The local economies of districts and municipalities with high rates of unemployment have also taken a beating because consumer spending had been sharply curtailed during the freeze.

Think about that on election day this November. In most cases, the Democrats have been a miserable failure but it was still them, with two independents and two Republicans, who gave us that money to put back into the economy and gave millions of us breathing room. The Democrats, not the Republicans.

Those who've lost their benefits during the dry spell ought to get what was due to them retroactively meaning that some long-overdue bills will finally get paid. But long-unpaid bills also come with penalty fees for being paid late, meaning that more of that meager $309 per week will get spent on late fees and penalty surcharges to their creditors instead of going for food and other necessities.

So the temporary damage the GOP did to their states' and districts' economies will be fixed in time but to the people who've been waiting months for these benefits to kick in, they will be the losers since they will not be reimbursed for committing the crimes of being indigent.


At July 21, 2010 at 11:45 AM, Blogger Bartender Cabbie said...

What the Hell is wrong with me. I actually totally agree with you on this one.

At July 21, 2010 at 5:15 PM, Anonymous Bitter cynic said...

This illustrates one of the reasons why I believe the U.S. is headed for a DE-flationary collapse, not an inflationary one. In the name of "austerity" and "fiscal responsibility" and other bullshit euphemisms, more and more money is going to be ripped from people who need it to stay alive. And it will have the economic ripple effects that you describe. So the American economy will shrink, even though the amount of the clownbucks that you need to buy anything (especially imports) will skyrocket. The econo-pie will be smaller overall.

What that will translate into is a declining population, too. Call it "deflatulation." When peoples' money supply, the financial oxygen they need to survive, is cut off, more will starve, or fall prey to disease, or turn to crime and deadly misadventures to get by, or simply kill themselves. (Sometimes taking other people that they hate with them -- I would not be surprised to see you doing that when your back is pushed against the wall one time too many.)

That is the ultimate Republican position for America -- death. Kill the weak, the sick, the old, the economic losers. Hitler called them "useless eaters." Repukes aren't even as honest as Adolf, but their aim is the same.

At July 21, 2010 at 5:18 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

In other words, genocide disguised as Dutch uncle lessons in fiscal responsibility. I hear you.

At July 22, 2010 at 11:18 AM, Blogger lisahgolden said...

I rarely comment these days but this one draws me out. You never fail to amaze me with you skill and insight.

Fiscal responsibility? Just like always - games and political theater. And some of the mouthbreathing unwashed masses will continue to vote against their own best interests. Maddening.

At July 23, 2010 at 12:35 PM, Anonymous W: Home said...

I obviously dont know how EB would be implemented if it passes, but I can guess. I believe that per the Fed stimulus bill, if the state legislature triggers EB it will waive the 12 month requirement that you are concerned about. I get the same perception as you that there is not a lot of reporting on this in the press. I really have had to dig hard to find the scraps on this I have posted. I think the reason for this is the unemployment money is such a small amount compared to the large scale of the state budget that the legislature is working on, that most of the political focus and reporting is on the budget activities. [There is a lot more political bread to get buttered with the State budget negoiations on outlays and taxes] There is at least one article in the paper every day on the budget process.


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