If there is a fire in the house down the road, the first thing people do is call 911 and do whatever they can to do put out the fire. At that time you don’t try to figure out how much expense the fire department would incur. There is no doubt someone has to pay for it. The fire threatens the life of people in the house; it can get out of control, spread into the neighborhood and inflict serious damage to the whole community. Even if the fire department is broke you expect them to come out and do their job.
America is facing an unprecedented level of unemployment. In California, Michigan and Nevada, the unemployment rate is over 12%. Millions of Americans are jobless for no fault of theirs. This is truly a wild fire in the country and what is needed right now is to put out the fire - help the people in need so the 1.2 million families already suffering do not go into poverty. Not doing anything about it is like letting the fire engulf the families of over million people. Talking about the deficit at a moment like this and not passing the bill that would have extended temporary benefits is criminal.
Everyone knows America is facing a record deficit with the likes never seen before in history and but it’s sometime forgotten that the deficit did not happen in one year. Starting with a humming economy in 2000, America has managed to squander many opportunities, get into two wars, and convert a surplus into deficit. Yes, the deficit needs to be controlled but not at the cost of Americans who have lost their jobs.
Some law makers make unemployment benefits sound like money given to lazy people. Senator Orin Hatch has even proposed drug testing for all recipients who receive unemployment benefits. The unemployment insurance program provides temporary benefits to eligible workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own and meet several other eligibility requirements. The benefits are based solely on a tax imposed on employers and the truth is that the benefit amount is barely enough to get by but not at all enough to pay all bills. The economy is poor and innocent Americans are taking the hits. Politicians must stop taking cheap shots at hard working people. America bailed out the financial industry, which actually added to the deficit significantly. America now needs to do the right thing – extend unemployment benefits, which cost just a fraction of the bailout amount.
Earlier this year, Republican Senator Jim Bunning from Kentucky single handedly blocked a senate bill that would have extended unemployment benefits. He stayed beyond midnight to filibuster this bill. His argument that he is actually supporting the measure but he is fighting the deficit and finding a way to pay for one month extension is such a lie that even Senate’s GOP leadership couldn’t support his actions at the time. Now, however, all the Republican senators have joined Senator Bunning. Not a single Republican voted for the bill. It is a shame that politics has taken precedence over what is right.