The story of the week out of Washington DC concerns the extension of unemployment benefits.
You already know the drill.
Obama wants them extended, and as the support of the Keynesian establishment. The GOP screams “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE DEFICIT!? WE’RE ON THE VERGE OF BECOMING GREECE!”
And on and on and on and on it goes, until somehow the Democrats round up 60 votes, and the whole debate starts anew down the road, the next time they’re due to be extended, with unemployment hovering around 10%.
The the GOP have been deficit hypocrites over the years is totally obvious. Bush never gave a damn about the deficit, as he got us into two wars, cut taxes, and created a gigantic new entitlement. The GOP establishment was so firmly in favour of the benefit that they held the vote open extra long and twisted multiple arms, just to get the necessary votes.
While opposing spending has always been superficially a part of the GOP plank, the party never acted on it until Obama came into office, and the economy was at its weakest. Pretty rich, eh?
(For what it’s worth, the Democrats vacillate similarly, having flirted with fiscal conservatism around the same time they flirted with Howard Dean, though the hypocrisy reeks a little less, since big deficits, technically, have never been part of the party’s base.)
Which brings us to now, July 19, 2010, a day before the unemployment extensions vote, and the frequently sensible Senator Orrin Hatch is explaining GOP intransigence because, yes, the added debt will crush our grandchildren, the most tired of debt cliches.
Let’s see, the the national debt stands at $13.25 trillion, not including the entitlement obligations (and not including Fannie and Freddie), and THIS is the vote where the Republicans are choosing to make a stand? The cost of the extension is estimated at $34 billion, so we’re talking an addition of 0.0025% here to the whole enchilada.
Now before you go into the comments and say that we’re obviously Germany-style socialists here, read on, because actually we don’t think that the GOP should give in, it’s just that they should stop using the phony deficit explanation as why.
There are all kinds of good reasons to oppose the extension, as well as every other “stimulus” The White House dreams up.
There’s the (albeit marginal) negative effect on the desire to work. Getting money to not work does, for some folks in the right situations, decrease their inclination to find a job. But this is not huge, and doesn’t account for the massively high rate of unemployment.
What you have, though, is the powerful fact that stimulus is NOT a fix to the economy. In fact, the Krugma-Keynesians have NEVER had an idea for fixing the economy, other than maintaining the status quo. It’s not just a cliche to say that the economy needs a radical adjustment, and keeping the training wheels will on the bike will also slow that down.
Yes, it will really bite, and some people will go homeless, and some families will be torn apart, and some people will have to live on their friends’ couches, but you know what, this is actually what it might take? And yes, it’s unfair that we bailed out the banks, and that Lloyd Blankfein didn’t have to sleep on anyone’s couch, but that’s the bridge we’ve already crossed.
So, GOP, man up. Cut it out with the the deficit hogwash, and make some serious arguments against unemployment insurance extension, and never vote for it again. We’ve offered you a free start here.
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