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Deficit misunderstanding

July 21, 2010 - John Stack
The GOP has figured out yet another way to destroy the lives of American
workers, all the while claiming they are the righteous ones. The Senate
Republicans have been using the big hammer of filibuster to attempt to
block any bill they don’t want to be seen voting for. The latest gimmick is
to deny long term unemployment benefits extensions to the chronically
unemployed. Of course, in this era of Tea Party Patriotism, the GOP is
claiming they really do care about the unemployed and want to get these
people the benefits they need. BUT they are claiming the government needs
to find ways to cut spending to the tune of $34 Billion or find a different
revenue source. They claim to be mighty ‘deficit hawks’ who are only
thinking about their grandkids who will have to be paying off this deficit.
Of course, the only thing they are thinking about is that this trick of the
American people will gain them significant seats this fall, and to save
their own seats in the Senate and The House.
Deficit hawks. The way these guys talk, you’d think these guys were
weaned on the notion that deficits are to be avoided at all costs. As this
is politics, they conveniently forget the $600 billion added to the deficit
– during good economic times- for the Seniors Prescription Drug bill. If we
couldn’t afford it then, why was it added to the deficit? Why wasn’t
appropriate spending curtailed by the same amount? How about the Bush tax
cuts? They added over a TRILLION dollars to our current deficit. Oh yeah,
like the War in Iraq which is on the country’s credit card, there is a
little known codicil to the Faber Charter – deficit spending is bad, unless
it: A) is a tax cut B)is for a war or C)it may buy them votes in the next

Don’t believe me? Lets just use Senator Jon Kyl. The minority Whip in
the Senate. In other words, one of the most influential leaders of the GOP.
In his words ‘…you should never have to offset cost of a deliberate
decision to reduce tax rates on Americans’. This is Jon Kyl who was a major
leader of the filibuster to stop extension of unemployment benefits. Why?
Because the $30 Billion cost wasn’t paid for by new revenue sources (this
means new taxes) or by cutting spending. But, we surely don’t need to use
‘new revenue sources’ or ‘cut spending’ to extend $678 BILLION in tax
breaks to those making above $250,000. He goes on to say ‘You need to
offset the cost of increased spending, and that’s what Republicans object
to’. Huh? Where will this money come from? The magical Tea Party tree? Its
like trading in a used car to buy a new car. Do you want the dealer to give
you an extra $2,000 for the trade in, or cut the price of the car? Either
way, you pay the same amount. My bank account doesn’t care how the balance
was arrived at. Either way, the same amount needs to be paid. Same with tax
cuts. Why should tax cuts (with immediate benefits, and no benefit to those
paying for them 20 years from now) be put onto the deficit, while a program
that costs 1/20th needs to be paid for NOW that has tangible results for
recipients, which may actually accrue to the beneficiary for years (Ie-
staving off foreclosure, not having to move away to find immediate work,
better prospects of a better job)?

What drives me crazy is the lack of any economic basis for the
claims. Kyl didn’t even attempt to explain how the tax cuts for those
making more than $250,000 would jump start the economy. In fact, the tax
cuts ARE currently in place, and they aren’t helping now. By extending
them, would seem to only drain more money from the economy. Plus, this is
$678 Billion dollars! That is pretty close (give or take a few billion
dollars) of the stimulus funding which is a favorite GOP punching bag. But
back to Economics. Kyl is also one of the leading proponents of the idea
that unemployment benefits are detrimental. Again, in his words ‘In fact,
if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a
disincentive for them to seek new work’. Thing is, economists from both
sides of the spectrum disagree with this, as do members of the House and
Senate from both parties. But this engenders them to the Tea Partiers. The
person on unemployment? Hardly a step up from welfare in their eyes. The
caricature of some lazy slob sitting in front of the TV swilling Old
Milwaukee is the image he’s selling. Ya know what? That might be true for
an extreme minority. But, as NYS unemployment is basically based upon ½
your wages up to a maximum of $405, I’m guessing the great vast majority
cannot AFFORD to stay on unemployment forever. Someone making about $40,000
per year or more would max out on unemployment benefits. If you have a
mortgage, and car loan – that whole benefit check is about eaten up before
you even buy food. I believe the desire to eat and feed your family is
quite a good enough incentive to look for a job and not sit on the couch
and ‘let the money roll in’. For well over 90 percent of unemployment
beneficiaries, living on unemployment insurance is NOT a disincentive to
work. Its an absolutely absurd argument,a s a reason to not extend
benefits. Plus, during a massive economic meltdown – there just aren’t 9.9
million well paying jobs out there to be snatched up, so they aren’t
sitting at home eating bon bons and thinking ‘ha ha ha! I’ve really beat
the system this time!’
Then there is Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnel adding stupidity
to insult. He’s now claiming Obama has unnecessarily criticized Republicans
obstructing the legislation when it was clear Senate Democrats would be
able to end the debate. "He also knew it would pass. But he intentionally
implied otherwise, leaving the public without all the facts." The
unbelievable complete lack of anything even close to ethics is appalling!
What did he leave out? Oh. Yeah, the GOP was still filibustering the bill.
Yes, the GOP was hoping to change the minds of a couple rogue senators who
would vote to end the filibuster. Plus, Sen Byrd’s replacement was just
sworn in to give the Dems 60 votes. Oh, and by Senate rules, for 30 hours
after ‘cloture’ the GOP can actually continue to filibuster, by introducing
a bunch of amendments and bills. So, that’s what they are doing right now
(obstructing) running around squawking on the Senate floor until their 30
hours are up. That’s why Obama is saying the GOP is obstructing. And Mitch
saying the President was misleading the public? On a scale of 1-10, Obama
was misleading by a score of 1.1. For McConnel, his misleading was around
And this is the party that claims they will do better for America.
These are the top members of the Senate GOP. Many people will vote, just
so the Democrats –ie Reid and Pelosi won’t be able to lead. But, this is
the group of clowns they plan to replace them with? I’m pretty sure
Gillibrand and Schumer don’t have to worry about who I’ll cast my vote for.



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