Apr 052011
 

Congress and the president threw the long-term unemployed under the bus last year in the deal to extend the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

As the president and his fellow politicos revv up his re-election campaign bus, are they now poised to run over the 99ers, as the long-term unemployed are known?

The head of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver, appears ready to concede without a fight that the cost of extending unemployment benefits to the 99ers is “prohibitive.”

Two members of Cleaver’s caucus, Reps. Barbara Lee and Bobby Scott have proposed H.R. 589 to fund some benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Once again, Congress appears to be unwilling to find the $14 billion to extend unemployment compensation for the more than 1 million Americans out of work for at least 99 weeks.

President Obama seems more preoccupied with fighting for the $1 billion he says he will need for his reelection campaign.

How much could one of those 99ers contribute to the president, or anybody’s political campaign, for that matter?

That’s what occurred to me when I read who Obama – the man who at one time was supposed to transform American politics – had chosen to run his campaign to keep his job.

That would be Jim Messina, one of the undisputed experts at raising massive corporate campaign cash, a former staffer for Sen. Max Baucus, one-time head of the one Senate’s Finance Committee and one of the top vacuums of special interest contributions ever, according to Public Citizen.

So much for the grass roots that got the president where he is today. He’s dancing with Wall Street, big pharm and the insurance industry now. Messina apparently takes a dim view of the grass roots activists and their issues, which tend to clog up his vacuum cleaner.

For the corporate titans Obama will be relying on, it’s been a very, very good recovery.

For a lot of the grass roots folks who walked precincts and made phone calls in 2008, not so much. They’ve lost jobs, health insurance, homes, savings, pensions, and security.

Minorities have been especially hard hit, USA Today reports, by a “dual system” of finance. More than 20 percent of African-Americans and Hispanics will lose their homes in the present housing crisis, the Center for Responsible Lending contends.

Meanwhile the long-term unemployed, many of them older workers, face high hurdles reentering the workforce. Younger people face their own challenges, often taking lower paying jobs when they can find employment.

The politicians may be giving up on those of us who are unemployed but we shouldn’t. Call your congressperson and demand that they find the money for H.R 589.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Martin Berg

Martin Berg, WheresOurMoney.org editor, is a veteran journalist.

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