You’re an American, rolling along, worked hard all your life, never had a problem with keeping a job, or getting a job . . . then, boom. Out of work. Company closed. Laid off. Downsized. Furloughed. What looked like a secure future has now become fraught with anxiety. You look for a job and find that there either aren’t any in your field, or you’re competing with so many other people it becomes disheartening, frightening. You turn to unemployment benefits; it’s not a lot, but it might feed your family. As for paying the rent or mortgage, well, maybe not.
And what does the GOP do to help? Well, for starters, they create zero serious job bills, while simultaneously standing in the way of the job plans that the Democrats, led by President Obama, want to create. The GOP claims to have a whole arsenal of Job Fairies ready to roll out a plan that would completely cure unemployment, only their big proposal – a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution – was a proposal that economists say could actually increase unemployment if government spending dropped too quickly. In fact, the GOP claim that their jobs plan would create 5 million jobs earned ‘em a 3-Pinocchio rating from the Washington Post’s fact-checker.
Let’s face the facts: The GOP doesn’t care about job creation. In fact, in their zeal to see that President Obama is a one-term president, it does not behoove Republicans to roll out anything that would actually improve the economic outlook for the unemployed. They barely pay lip service to it.
To add insult to injury, the GOP has held the extension of unemployment benefits hostage – twice. A year ago, President Obama – amidst the outcry of the “professional left” – was forced to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich in order to secure further unemployment benefits for average, hurting Americans. And in an eerie deja vu, the GOP did it again this year, refusing to pass an extension to unemployment benefits and a payroll tax holiday in order to protect millionaires from having to pay a 3.5% surtax on their incomes. As noted by politicususa.com, despite the GOP’s insistence that a surtax on millionaires would stifle job creation, in the three years they’ve been saying that, no jobs have materialized from that top tier of so-called job creators.
This year, the House, led by Boehner and Cantor, dug in their heels and engaged in a stand-off with President Obama and Congressional Democrats – and Republicans as well – who wanted the two-month extension passed. Boehner held out as long as he could, but when President Obama didn’t blink, refused to be drawn into any Republican schemes to sit down and talk, and when conservatives pundits and Republicans began to condemn him for his intransigence, he caved. The two-month extension of unemployment benefits and payroll tax holiday passed.
But aside from the obvious fact that the GOP has zero interest in creating jobs – and the American public, more and more, is becoming bitterly aware of that fact – the GOP has some more arrows in their quiver to launch at the unemployment . . . such as drug-testing recipients of unemployment benefits. House Republicans think it’s a dandy idea, despite the fact that it’s been deemed unconstitutional. GOP presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry thinks it’s a dandy idea. Leave it to the teabagging House Republicans to double down on idiocy and cruelty by imposing punitive measures on the unemployed. As Think Progress noted, “. . . the real reason unemployment benefits are needed is unemployment, not some fabricated reality where government benefits are supporting drug dependencies.”
The GOP has no evidence, of course, to back up the notion that the unemployed are a bunch of lazy, stoned gamers living on the public dole. But it fits that they’d think like that; they believe the same of those on public assistance, those on SNAP, those receiving any sort of government aid. The number of ways they strive to punish those whose needs are great and resources small are breathtaking, from passing laws that those on assistance can’t carry cash to, now, drug testing everybody receiving public funds . . . except themselves.
In Michigan, Rick Snyder – one of the nation’s most unpopular governors – cavalierly shaved six weeks off the 26-week unemployment benefit period, while giving tax cuts to corporations to the tune of $1.7 million. Earlier this year, Florida Governor Rick Scott did the same, shaving 3 weeks off the 26-week benefit period. GOP governors are blithely eliminating public sector jobs, as well.
The GOP’s elitist and arrogant position on joblessness may be, in the end, the petard they are hoist upon. They forget something very simple: Republican voters are also out of work.