a conversation with a neighbor
This morning I had an interesting conversation with my neighbor about unemployment, and the need to extend benefits while the recovery is ongoing. The following is the gist of the conversation.
NEIGHBOR: So, how’s that democrat (yes, he’s a republican) vote working out for ya?
ME: Not bad so far, sir. Although, I wish we had a larger majority so we could get more done, and see more progressive legislation.
N: Well, they managed to screw up the unemployment extension, which is going to hurt a lot of people.
M: Um, how exactly did the democrats screw it up?
N: It failed to pass, so they must have screwed something up.
M: It actually didn’t fail to pass, as it was never brought to the floor for debate, or an up or down vote. The republicans filibustered1 the bill, and refused debate. Without a cloture motion (to end the filibuster), which requires 60 votes, the legislation died. The final vote on cloture was 57-41, with all 40 republicans and Ben Nelson, a 51% democrat voting to continue the filibuster.
N: They must have had a reason for voting against it, with all the talk of deficits, they were probably just being fiscally responsible.
N: What’s so funny?
M: Well, for one, you think they are fiscally responsible, and two, you really don’t know the reason they voted against it?
N: Republicans have always been the fiscally responsible party. Its democrats and liberals who tax-and-spend.
M: Look, both parties spend billions. The difference is what its spent on, but that’s a conversation for another time. In the last administration, with 6 years of a republican majority, we went from the surplus left by Clinton, to deficit spending every year. The current deficit projections show that the majority of the deficit is from the wars and Bush tax-cuts2. Those tax cuts will cost some 2 trillion dollars over the long term, and helped mainly the top 5% of income earners3, which obviously is neither one of us. If we really care about deficits, we should let those cuts expire and, and quickly as is feasible, bring our troops home.
N: Okay, but what was your second point, about the real reason they voted against it?
M: Sir, we are in the midst of a delicate economic recovery, the stimulus that republicans fought hard against is actually working4, but it needs help since it wasn’t big enough. Extending benefits keeps money flowing through the economy, helps maintain job levels, allows people to keep their homes and cars. Republicans are doing this for one reason, to sabotage5 the recovery, tank the economy and blame the democrats in the November elections. Simply put, they are trying to gain electoral advantage on the backs of people who are already hurting. The jobless are being kicked while they’re down. For politics. A few additional weeks of stimulative UI benefits, which incidentally, were nearly paid for, and in total would have added about .0001% to the deficit, could make all the difference in the recovery. But all that aside, sir, the most jarring part of it all is two-fold. First that republicans wouldn’t even allow the legislation to come to the floor for a vote, likely because they know they’d lose the argument on its merits, and they knew that the Senate Leader had the votes to pass it. Second is how brazen they are in their dishonesty. They just voted to extend 35 billion dollars in tax cuts to Big Oil, but won’t vote to extend benefits to American citizens hurting from 30 years of republican economic policies6, nor will they take a .0001% hit to the deficit to extend benefits to Homeless Veterans7. The Big Oil tax breaks, and breaks to big banks could have nearly paid for both the UI extension, and the homeless vet appropriations.
N: So, you really think they are that cynical? That callous?
M: Yes, I do. This has worked for them in the past. I am hoping that enough people see the truth this time, and vote accordingly.
N: I assume you have cites for all the things you’ve told me? So I can go see for myself?
M: I do. Another small bite you may want to chew on after doing some reading- The Homeless Veterans benefits legislation was blocked by one of our guys, Tom Coburn.
He gave me his email address, and I sent him the links posted below. I doubt I turned him into a fire-breathing liberal, but maybe it gave him something to think about, and perhaps he will see the current movement conservatism for what it is, a pile of lies, on a foundation of hypocrisy, built by conservative friendly media, and way more anti-government (at least anti- any government program they don’t like. the ones they do like, well that’s a different story. see: wars, abortion, torture, military spending, marriage) than even their hero, Reagan. They completely abandoned the ‘compassion’ part of Reagan’s “compassionate conservatism,” and he didn’t have much to begin with. At any rate, its better to talk to one another, than to scream over one another.