Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Don't Forget, Don't Neglect

The media simply isn't covering the biggest economic, cultural, social and political story going, beyond the BP oil Armaggedon: unemployment benefits have run out for an estimated one million Americans, with many more behind them as their benefits run out.

The House has passed an extension, as well as a bill stripping tax breaks for companies that export jobs out of the U.S. But the Senate left Washington on recess without passing it, because of opposition. The arguments against it are counterfactual, as usual--for one thing, the extension is likely to create thousands of new jobs and is a proven economic stimulus. But GOPers and the resurgent Rabid Right is particularly good at the reverse equivalent of the schoolyard taunt, "That's what you are, what am I?" When they sling charges and call names, they're very often saying, That's what I am, what are you? Every time their opponents raise a social justice issue, the GOPers cry "Class War!" When class war is exactly what they are waging. It's the Rich against everybody else.

As Paul Krugman wrote, the latest self-reinforcing congressional delusion is that cutting the deficit is more important than stimulating the economy, and more to the point, helping the victims of The Rich First, Last and Always economy keep their heads above water. "More and more, conventional wisdom says that the responsible thing is to make the unemployed suffer. And while the benefits from inflicting pain are an illusion, the pain itself will be all too real."

Functionally, the deficit is this case is just a reason that the rich might someday get taxed more. This is even clearer here in California, where the poor, the helpless and the old will be abandoned in Ahnold's budget, so that the wealthy--like the Republicans spending hundreds of millions of dollars on their campaigns--won't have to pay for the consequences of their rapaciousness.

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