Millionaire Hostage-Takers

Millionaire Hostage-Takers

Republicans in Congress are holding middle class American families hostage at the bidding of their wealthy masters. GOP Congressmen refuse to continue Bush-era tax breaks for middle-income households unless millionaires get tax breaks, too. Astoundingly, they persist in arguing that tax breaks for the rich produces “trickle-down” benefits for the rest of us, the same nonsense they used to lead the country into financial ruin in the first place.

Republicans have found the most vulnerable victims, refusing to extend jobless benefits for unemployed workers. They probably did this because it’s faster than targeting widows and orphans. Think of it as the GOP’s Christmas gift to the electorate in gratitude for all those Republican votes last month. The kicker: cutting off jobless benefits does further damage to the economy.

 UPDATE: “Number of Millionaires in Congress: 261,” Stephanie Condon, CBS News.


Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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2 Responses to “Millionaire Hostage-Takers”

  1. Another David Says:

    I disagree with the statement that not extending unemployment benefits would be so damaging to the economy.

    The oft-cited Katz-Meyer paper on the effects of unemployment benefits on unemployment duration demonstrated that every for week benefits are extended, an average unemployed person will spend another day or so unemployed. So if unemployment benefits are extended for a year, we can expect average unemployment spells to last nearly two months longer. The biggest problem with that being that the longer the unemployment spell, the more difficult it becomes to find a job.

    According to BLS, there were just over 2.9 million jobs available as of September, and that number had been on the rise since July 09 while the number of unemployed persons was about 13.5 million and fairly stationary. The only reason this disparity can exist is that these new jobs are not such great jobs; job seekers view having one of them as even worse than not having a job at all, based on their previous experiences. So while the problem once was a lack of work, I believe it is increasingly becoming a lack of willingness to accept a less-than-desirable job. The only way to change that is to make the condition of not having a job at all worse than the condition of having a less-than-desirable job. Admittedly it’s an obdurate solution, and I’m positive I would feel differently if I were unemployed, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    What do you do with the other 10 million? I don’t know and I’m not going to pretend to know, but my point is this: the government can’t continue extending unemployment benefits indefinitely and continuing to do so is only delaying the inevitable. I believe it is seriously dragging down several indicators – the unemployment rate not the least among them – and continuing extensions will do at least as much damage as ending them.

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    Another David wrote (and at great length): The oft-cited Katz-Meyer paper

    Oft cited by those seeking simple answers to a complex issue, perhaps. Input/output models work great with either/or questions but here … not so much.

    The hyperlinks on the post above cite more realistic whole system analyses by:

    The Congressional Budget Office — $1 spent on unemployment benefits generates up to $1.90 in economic growth, the most effective government policy for generating growth among 11 other options considered

    Mark Zandi, chief economist at that socialist hotbed, Moody’s Analytics — $1 spent on unemployment benefits generates up to $1.61 in economic growth

    U.S. Labor Department — $1 spent on unemployment benefits generates up to $2 in economic growth

    for [each] week benefits are extended, an average unemployed person will spend another day or so unemployed.

    The longer the gap in employment, the less likely employers are to hire a given jobseeker for a vacant position, as you observe. But it doesn’t matter if the unemployed are spending down their own resources or recieving EUI benefits. Benefits merely contain the damage to families and — unlike tax breaks for the rich — the money will be immediately spent on necessities, stimulating the economy and helping us all. And it’s not every unemployed person who would be eligible for EUI aid, just a fraction.

    Simple use of the term “unemployment” introduces further imprecision into the equation. The so-called “official” U-3 unemployment rate counts anyone with a 20-hour-a-week job as if he/she were fully employed. People aren’t rejecting “undesirable” jobs; they are refusing to accept the fiction that a part-time job can sustain an adult, let alone a family. That is why recognition of the U-6 employment rate as a more realistic standard is long overdue.

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