The House of Representatives on Thursday voted down a measure that would have reauthorized extended unemployment insurance for another three months, leaving no clear path forward to prevent the benefits from lapsing as scheduled on Nov. 30.
Without a reauthorization, the Labor Department estimates that two million long-term unemployed will prematurely stop receiving benefits before the end of the year.
"I think it's a sad moment," said Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) after the vote. "It appalls me that the Republicans keep pitching and pitching and pitching the tax cuts for the rich and won't join in a bill to help people keep their homes and not have to live in their cars."
The bill was brought to the floor under a "suspension of the rules," meaning it required approval from two-thirds of the House. It failed 258 to 154, with mostly Democratic support. Twenty-one Republicans voted in favor and 11 Democrats voted nay.
Those Democrats who voted against are pretty worthless (roll call here), but even if they'd voted for it, they wouldn't have gotten the two-thirds needed. House leadership invoked the suspension of rules to keep Republicans from loading the bill up with stupid crap. Want to fix crazy spending and stupid laws coming from Washington? Forget earmarks, eliminate riders. If you want an up-or-down vote on just this measure, this is the way you have to do it.
But what can we learn from this? My takeaway is that Republicans don't give a crap about the economy or, if they do, they want to keep it lousy until 2012. Unemployment benefits are, hands down, the most direct and immediate economic stimulus out there. I've said it before and I'll keep saying it until only people in mental hospitals think it's not true: if you want to stimulate the economy, you get money to people who you're damned sure are going to spend it. This means people who need money. And no one needs money more than the person who's unemployed.
Those high-end tax giveaways the GOP loves so much? Yeah, they don't do squat.
David Leonhardt, New York Times:
Liz Peek at FoxNews.com congratulates me for writing about the importance of economic growth. So in the spirit of maximizing growth, I want to pose a question: Why should we believe that extending the Bush tax cuts will provide a big lift to growth?
Those tax cuts passed in 2001 amid big promises about what they would do for the economy. What followed? The decade with the slowest average annual growth since World War II. Amazingly, that statement is true even if you forget about the Great Recession and simply look at 2001-7.
The competition for slowest growth is not even close, either. Growth from 2001 to 2007 averaged 2.39 percent a year (and growth from 2001 through the third quarter of 2010 averaged 1.66 percent). The decade with the second-worst showing for growth was 1971 to 1980 -- the dreaded 1970s -- but it still had 3.21 percent average growth.
We just ran a decade-long experiment proving conclusively that the high end tax breaks are freakin' pointless and only increase the deficit, but the Republicans want them so bad. Because they don't give a crap about you. If you're not wealthy and you think the GOP has your back, you're a fool. The Republican Party represents the rich and no one else. No one.
The rich are rich for a reason; they're wealth collectors. Money at the top just pools up there, stagnating, while doing almost nothing for the rest of the economy. Meanwhile, people who need money are guaranteed to spend it and consumer demand -- not employers -- is what creates jobs. Demand creates jobs, demand creates jobs, demand creates jobs, say it with me, demand creates jobs. Anyone who says anything different is either a liar or a dope or both.
What happens when an unemployed person gets a benefit check? They convert that money into something they need; a rent payment, a car payment, food, clothing, school supplies, etc. And that money moves on. It goes into a cash register or a ledger and it's converted into pay again. Then those people spend it and other people get paid and on and on up the economic ladder until it gets to the very top. No one loses when an unemployment benefit check is cut. No one.
And don't talk to me about what whether higher taxation of the wealthy is "fair" or not. Screw fair. Life isn't fair. And the last person who should be whining about what is or isn't fair is the guy who wakes up in a penthouse every morning to a view of his vast empire. If you're eating steak every night, while someone else is struggling -- or even failing -- to feed their kids, you get to shut up about "fair." The "let them eat cake" argument hasn't worked out so well for those who have made it in the past, so it's probably a really good idea to avoid making it now. Just shut it.
If you want to know what the GOP's economic ideas are, there's your real world example, played out on the floor of congress and in our nation's recent history. Bass-ackward, boneheaded, economic flateartherism that can only benefit the wealthy and no one else. No one.
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