Friday, December 16, 2011

Republican insanity continues.

It was my intention to have a laugh at the Republican contenders but as can often happen with google I stumbled on something more heartless than a Republican contender and that is HR 3630. anyway Siddhartha Mahanta blogs.

" On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed HR 3630, a bill extending President Barack Obama's 2 percent payroll tax cut. But the tax cut, which was set to expire on January 1 and will save the average American family an estimated $1,000 next year, is just about the only candy cane in this holiday stocking. The rest of HR 3630 is bursting at the seams with conservative goodies, including—get this—drastic changes to the unemployment insurance system that could force unemployed Americans to undergo drug tests, require them to get GEDs, ( General Educational Development test ) and greatly reduce the time they're able to receive benefits. "
Now that is just plain nasty. On December 5 a reader on Kiwiblog talked about his experience of being on the dole in NZ and on stuff today former MP  Georgina Beyer describes her life on the unemployment benefit both are a sobering read. Mahanta continues.

" Under current law, unemployed workers are eligible for up to 99 weeks of federal and state unemployment benefits. States pay for the first 26 weeks of those benefits, and the federal government foots the bill for between 34 and 73 more—the exact number varies from state to state based on each state's unemployment rate. If the Republicans get their way, workers who use up their 26 weeks would only be able to receive benefits through week 59—reducing their benefits by up to 40 weeks. The GOP bill also reduces the monetary value of the benefits it does provide."

A slash and burn approach that will see UI ( Unemployment Insurance ) liabilities to the Federal Government drop by over 50% on those figures. Now this is interesting.

"...Mark Zandi, an economic adviser for Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential campaign, has estimated that each dollar spent on extending unemployment benefits generates $1.61 in economic growth. Meanwhile, according to an analysis from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), the Republicans' bill would result in $22 billion in lost economic growth and cost at least 140,000 jobs next year. With unemployment still hovering around 8.6 percent, those numbers are pretty catastrophic."

So ultimately the cuts will do more damage than good.

" Not content with simply slashing benefits, Republicans also want to impose new requirements on unemployment benefit seekers. Their bill would mandate that all UI recipients hold high school diplomas or GEDs and would allow states to drug-test applicants. But the bill doesn't provide any money to pay for those new hurdles, putting that burden on already cash-strapped state governments."

Effectively accusing the American unemployed of being drug users and shifting the cost to the State governments doesn't strike me as very clever but the Republicans don't strike me as very clever either.

" HR 3630 seems to pin the blame for being unemployed on the jobless, says Maurice Emsellem, a policy codirector with the NELP. "They're figuring that the record number of people who are out of a job today are out a job because it's their fault," Emsellem says.
But Jesse Rothstein, an economist at the University of California-Berkeley who has studied unemployment insurance, says there's little evidence that lack of education or drug addiction is the main problem for most unemployed people. "Most of the problem right now is that there aren't enough jobs," he says. The most recent data from the Bureau on Labor Statistics backs him up, showing 6.9 million people receiving unemployment insurance (out of a total 14 million without work) versus 3.4 million job openings in September. The BLS data "implies that measures aimed at getting people to look harder for jobs aren't likely to be very useful," Rothstein adds."

Stating the obvious is in the end a fairly pointless game in both America and New Zealand if there are no jobs there are no jobs and if the Euro zone falls apart it will get a whole lot worse Cameron Slater  spotted this in The Telegraph

"We have an atomic bomb that we can use in the face of the Germans and the French: this atomic bomb is simply that we won't pay," said Pedro Nuno Santos, vice-president of the Socialist Party in the parliament.
"Debt is our only weapon and we must use it to impose better conditions, because recession itself is what is stopping us complying with the (EU-IMF Troika) accord. We should make the legs of the German bankers tremble," he said"

I wonder if the Republicans have spotted it. At the start of this mess we were shown images on TV of people who had lost the house and job in the US in trailer parks they were philosophical about it America would recover, they were flying American flags. I don't see images like that on the news now I see Occupy Wall Street like the Tea Party they are incoherent  and unlike the Tea Party they are leaderless but Pedro Nuno Santos will be somewhere in the Occupy movement.

Danyl at the Dim-Post on a tangentially related issue made this comment today about the passing of Christopher Hitchens

" He was wrong on the great issue of the day: the invasion of Iraq – and he was so stridently, sneeringly, viciously wrong that his vanity never allowed him to walk it back. He spent a huge amount of time, energy and words railing against the existential threat of ‘Islamofascism’ when it turned out the great threat to the hegemony of the west was our own financial system."

Perceptive guy Danyl, the Republicans might want to think about the ultimate cost of shifting the blame for the recession onto the poor and unemployed. As the American dream  myth implodes the Republican response is to kick the most vulnerable in the teeth. Poor, unemployed and uneducated doesn't mean stupid.

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