Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Cold Out, Right? Now Boehner And His GOP Colleagues Will Determine Whether To Force Unemployed Workers Into Penury And Starvation-- Yes, Here In America


Yesterday the Senate postponed voting on extending unemployment insurance for the 1.3 million Americans whose benefits expired last week and for even more people whose benefits will expire between now and July. Reid sensed he could get 5 Republicans to cross the aisle and back the American people, instead of their own party's determination to make Obama fail by making America fail. It worked. This morning, the Senate voted 60-37 (Collins, Murkowsky, Coats, Heller, Ayotte and Portman crossing the aisle to got with all the Democrats) to shut down the Republican filibuster against extending unemployment benefits. Now McConnell is demanding that he'll still prevent to from passing unless Obamacare is stopped and other Republicans are insisting that the extension must be paid for-- but ONLY out of money that would otherwise go towards programs that help working families, like Medicare or Social Security, not by cutting subsidies and tax benefits to the wealthy. Next week the debate will love to the House-- controlled by the Party of Greed and Selfishness, where Boehner is looking to make a deal to further the Republican efforts in their relentless war against the poor.

In California, the worst-hit state by the cut-off, 213,793 unemployed workers lost their benefits December 28. Before July, unless Congress fixes the problem they created, another 325,800 Californians ail be left completely destitute-- in a state with an 8.9% unemployment rate already and where the weekly benefit comes to $303.37. The House Ways and Means Committee, estimates that by extending unemployment benefits, approximately 46,441 jobs in California will be saved through the end of 2014. As Eloise Reyes, the progressive community activist running for the Republican-held House seat in the Inland Empire, told us just before the cutoff, "For the Inland Empire, where one in four children currently lives in poverty, ending long-term unemployment insurance would have devastating consequences. When millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet, Republican obstructionism is simply irresponsible. Clearly, the only constituent Gary Miller is representing in Congress is himself… To end unemployment benefits for long-term job seekers would be to cut millions of Americans off from their one remaining financial lifeline as they struggle to get back on their feet."

CA-31 is entirely in San Bernardino County and there the losses have been devastating-- 13,218 unemployed workers have already lost their benefits. Just before the cuts kicked in, PPP released a poll showing that CA-31 voters overwhelmingly oppose Miller's backing of the Republican decision to cut off extended unemployment benefits at the end of the month. "Voters," wrote PPP's Tom Jensen, "say they would be inclined to punish their already vulnerable representatives at the polls next year if they vote to cut off benefits." Overall support for extending unemployment insurance-- which both President Obama and Eloise Reyes have called for-- is 68% among all voters, across party lines in CA-31. Among Democrats, that support rises to 84%. Even Republicans in the district back it by 51-41% and Inland Empire Independents are in favor 62-34%. On top of that, 42% of voters say that if Miller votes against extending unemployment benefits, they will be even less likely to vote for his already shaky reelection.

Another Blue America candidate, state Senate Daylin Leach from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, has been as outspoken as Eloise Reyes on the other coast. Pennsylvania has also been hard-hit. With an unemployment rate of 7.7%, the state lost benefits for 213,793 workers last week and is due to be hit by a whopping 92,900 cuts over the next six months. The average weekly payment there is $343.31, barely enough for a family to get by on even in an emergency. The source of Eloise's empathy for hard pressed workers in the Inland Empire is obvious. She worked to put herself through school, in part, by picking onions with her family members. This morning, Daylin made clear where his empathy is coming from as well:
"I was born to a single mother who had to quit work to take care of my sick grandmother. We were on what they call 'Welfare' for several years, two of which I spent in a series of foster homes, living with families that weren't doing much better than my mom. I saw first-hand the many ways that poverty is corrosive to a family. Shame on us as a country that we have stopped talking about poverty, and that we seem to have lost the ambition to banish hunger, and deprivation from our nation. If I could do only one thing in politics, it would be to once again turn America's head towards those in need. This is a solvable problem that we lack the will to solve. But that can change. That must change."
Eloise and Daylin are both in tough primaries against Republican-lite Democrats. Blue America is backing them both and you can help them here on the Blue America ActBlue page. Both face opponents backed by the corrupt DC Establishment who have publicly come out for Chained CPI and other preferred Republican Party tools to cut back on earned benefits for seniors. You'll also notice on that same page, one incumbent: Alan Grayson, "the congressman with guts." He has been giving advice and support to both Eloise and Daylin-- as well as to other candidates running to get something done on behalf of working families (rather than on behalf of wealthy campaign donors like most Members of both corrupt DC party establishments). Last week Grayson reiterated the polar opposite of what we saw Michele Bachmann yammering about this morning. This has been the ultimate DO NOTHING Congress. He makes the case very logically-- and with the help of a 1974 Billy Preston song-- about why he and doesn't view this quite the same way Bachmann does
A few weeks ago, the Republicans unveiled their 2014 agenda, and it was... nothing.

I kid you not. Here is how it was reported in Politico:

"Last Thursday, a group of House Republicans filed into Majority Leader Eric Cantor's Capitol office suite and received a blank piece of paper labeled 'Agenda 2014.'... A Republican aide… said... 'The problem is we don't know where we are headed…' "

Many people saw the absence of an agenda as a problem. I think that it understates the problem. My concern is that the Republicans don't know where to go, not that they don't know how to get there.

To give you an idea of where they seem to think we should go, here are some actual bills that were actually introduced by actual Republicans last year:
a bill to allow the states to nullify any federal law (didn't we settle that in 1865?);
a bill to require every high school student to read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged (mandatory libertarian indoctrination-- oh, the irony...);
a bill to prohibit lap dancing and jello wrestling (which contained fascinating definitions of the terms "nudity" and "sexual device");
a bill establishing a state religion (not Islam, that's for sure); and
a bill authorizing restaurants, hotels, hair salons and other businesses to deny service to gay customers.
If you're trying to do stuff like that, then doing nothing is a massive improvement.

But more importantly, you just can't do nothing about nothing. You're always doing nothing about something. When the Republicans say that they have no agenda for 2014, then in effect, they're saying this:

"We're going to do nothing about the 20 million Americans who can't find full-time work."

"We're going to do nothing about the fact that America now has the highest inequality of wealth in history."

"We're going to do nothing about the fact that our military expenditures are roughly equal to that of every other country combined, even though we face no conceivable threat of invasion, and we spend approximately $50 billion spying largely on ourselves."

"We're going to do nothing about the fact that the United States has run a trade deficit of at least $350,000,000,000.00 every single year since 2000, with no end in sight."

"We're going to do nothing about the fact that the Arctic ice cap is disappearing, the release of methane greenhouse gas from tundra is snowballing ('snowballing'-- hah!), and global temperatures may rise by 10 degrees by the end of the century."

"We're going to do nothing about the fact that there are so many corporate income tax loopholes that corporate tax revenue is at its lowest in 50 years."

"We're going to do nothing about the fact that according to some tests, American students have the lowest math scores in the entire world."

"We're going to do nothing about the fact that 434 out of 435 House Members and 99 out of 100 Senators raised most of their campaign funds from big donors [the only exceptions being Sen. Sanders (I-VT) and moi]."

"We're going to nothing about the fact that the federal minimum wage buys less today than it did in 1968, and the bottom 20% has a far lower household income today than it did in 1999."

"After we repeal Obamacare, we're going to do nothing about the 50 million Americans who can't see a doctor when they're sick." [The Republican healthcare plan: Don't Get Sick. And if you do get sick, Die Quickly.]

So it may seem that the Republicans are doing nothing about nothing. But they're actually doing nothing about everything. Whatever the problems we face, their infantile solution is always the same: close your eyes, and it will go away. Close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears, and repeat "La-la-la-la-la-la-la."

Will that work? No. All of these problems have solutions, but none of them is going to solve itself.

That's our job.
And to do that job, Grayson needs candidates like Eloise Reyes and Daylin Leach to win their primaries and beat their Republican opponents. Here's how Grayson introduced Leach to his own Pennsylvania supporters last July when he first endorsed him:
President Harry Truman was a smart guy. He once said, "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time."

He was right. Truman sought to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. And he understood a basic fact of political life. In politics, if you believe in nothing, you’ll fall for anything.

All too often, when Democratic leaders make plans to recruit Democratic candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, their strategy is to find candidates who believe in nothing.

When one of these candidates was asked about immigration and tax policy, what was his answer, stated in a prominent national newspaper?

“Certainly I have a lot of research to do."


Recruiting know-nothings might be their plan, but it’s not our plan.

We will be finding True Blue DEMOCRATS, and electing them.

I think I’ve found one, by the name of Daylin Leach. He’s a current member of the Pennsylvania Senate, and he’s running for the 13th Congressional District in your fine state.
Alan Grayson, Eloise Reyes, Daylin Leach… all on the same page.

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