Friday, July 23, 2010

Fiscal "Responsibility" & Fake Democrats

There must be other progressive bloggers who receive email from organizations like Open Left and find themselves 100% on the same page as those that the email was intended for. As the following snippet suggests, there are plenty of us who are indeed "sick of conservative, milquetoast Democrats" who should be ashamed to call themselves Democrats:

It seems that there are a dozen or so members of Congress, Democrats from fairly conservative districts, who would rather join the party of obstruction and stonewalling than vote as actual Democrats who care about those among us who need the most help. Case in point: 10 Democrats, including Idaho's own Walt Minnick, voted once more against continuing to grant unemployment benefits. While those 10 "Democrats" continued to prove just how low they will sink in their attempt to get re-elected on the bogus back of financial responsibility memes, when it came time to vote even some Republicans realized that the American people need help and voted their conscience rather than what was being yelled at them by Tea Party activists.

For whatever reason, actions aren't currently speaking louder than words in American politics. Blame this on the recession, the Tea Party or whatever you want, but the truth of the matter is, what should matter doesn't right now and it is beyond depressing. Shouldn't it speak very loudly that John Boehner, the leader of the minority party in the House is leading the charge against unemployment benefits while his own brother is unemployed? Actions can't speak louder than words in an environment that is riddled daily with screams from birthers, Birchers and actual members of congress calling for people to vote out the Democrats and those who keep spending the people's money or we'll be forced to secede from the Union. Depressing doesn't even begin to describe it; it is absolutely cruel.

While the GOP and the GOP-Lite (i.e. the 10 Democrats in the House, including Minnick) rant about the deficit and financial responsibility while Americans are suffering and barely hanging on, this is what the White House Office of Media Affairs had to say today about what was accomplished this week, including passage of the extension of unemployment benefits:


Office of Media Affairs


July 23, 2010

New Law Extends Unemployment Benefits, Critical for Idaho

One of Three Steps This Week to Rebuild Economic Foundation

WASHINGTON – President Obama has signed legislation extending critical unemployment insurance to 2.5 million Americans – including an estimated 14,200 people in Idaho – who are looking for a job but have not been able to find work before their benefits were exhausted.

The extension of unemployment benefits was one of three important actions this week to help repair the damage to the nation’s economy from this recession, and rebuild it on a stronger foundation. Other key actions:

Wall Street Reform becomes law. This legislation contains the toughest financial reforms since the ones created in the aftermath of the Great Depression. It will bring greater accountability to Wall Street, and provide greater security to families and small businesses on Main Street. The financial industry is central to our nation’s ability to grow, prosper, compete, and innovate. This law will help to foster that innovation, not hamper it. These reforms will put in place the strongest consumer protections in history, which will be enforced by an independent agency whose sole job is to establish rules of the road and enforce these protections to look out for the American consumer. Because of financial reform, the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes. There will be no more taxpayer-funded bailouts -- period. If a large financial institution should ever fail, we will have the tools to wind it down without endangering the broader economy. And there will be new rules to prevent financial institutions from becoming “too big to fail” in the first place, so that we don’t have another AIG.

Government inefficiencies are a prime target. President Obama came into office determined to change the way Washington works for the American people. That means working to build a government that is more open, more transparent, and more responsive to the needs of its people; and that is focused on getting rid of the waste and inefficiencies that squander the hard-earned money of American taxpayers. One of the core responsibilities of government is to steward the tax dollars of the American people wisely and well. And yet each year, the federal government makes billions of dollars in improper payments to individuals, organizations, and contractors. That’s why the President signed into law this week the Improper Payment Elimination and Recovery Act, an important step toward realizing the President’s new goal of reducing improper payments by $50 billion between now and 2012. This bipartisan legislation requires every federal agency to conduct annual assessments to determine which of their programs are at risk of making improper payments; and to audit more of their programs and recapture more taxpayer dollars. And there are now rigorous enforcement mechanisms to hold agencies accountable for how much money they save.

It has been a big week in Washington and one that will hopefully prove to help the economy, but to hear the GOP and anti-Democratic ideals Democrats tell it, the world may be coming to an end tomorrow. What is behind the unemployment benefits hold-up? Here is what the White House Office of Media Affairs had to say about it:

Since the first week of June, Senate Republicans [as well as House Republicans and a dozen Democrats in the House including Minnick] had stonewalled the extension of unemployment benefits to 2.5 million Americans, including an estimated 14,200 people in Idaho. The Senate was able to overcome these parliamentary maneuvers in order to provide much-needed support to middle-class families.

Extending unemployment benefits expands local purchasing power. Economist Mark Zandi of Moody’s put the economic multiplier of extending a dollar of unemployment benefits at 1.6, meaning that, for every dollar spent on unemployment compensation, $1.60 is added to our economy’s output. Similarly, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office places the multiplier in a range between 0.8 and 2.1.

Independent assessments from the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Duke University/CFO Magazine survey have cited sales concerns and weak product demand as the largest concerns voiced by small businesses and corporate financial officers. The Duke survey found that 36.4 percent of the CFOs believed that weak consumer demand was the top macro concern for their corporation – more than 18 percentage points higher than any other listed concern.
To reiterate an important point in that paragraph, Moody's believes that for every dollar of unemployment benefits we extend to struggling Americans, $1.60 is added to the economy's output. Moody's estimate is a conservative one. If the GOP really wants to talk about fiscal responsibility and the actual growing deficit, this isn't money being thrown blindly at a problem (or a war...or two), this is money that is strengthening the economy and keeping Americans afloat. Isn't looking out for your fellow human beings and taking care of one another the dictionary definition of responsibility?

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