Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Budget Deal: A Dirge for the Unemployed

Richard Eskow
Common Dreams

There will be time to review the budget deal which was just struck by congressional negotiators in more detail. To that end, the open windows on my computer show the latest labor statistics and economic trends. But the phrase that keeps coming to mind, especially when it comes to the unemployed, is more than 200 years old – 229 years, to be exact. And while its gender-specific phrasing may render it antiquated, the expression’s meaning is sadly relevant in today’s political world:
Man’s inhumanity to man.

I know, I know. That’s a pretty depressing thing to say. But let’s look at the facts: Federal workers will be expected to subsidize this deal with an increase in their out-of-pocket pension costs. There will be cuts to Medicare. Airline passengers will pay a new tax. Military retirees - military retirees - will see their benefits cut.

And the long-term unemployed, who have paid dearly for Wall Street’s excesses, will receive no extension of benefits. The sequester’s cuts were disastrous, but this deal is needlessly punitive. It’s mean-spirited toward people who are struggling through no fault of their own, people who have chosen a life of public service, and the middle class in general.

And presumably it will pass.

Ezra Klein says that “Democrats flatly got beat on sequestration. Republicans are keeping — and increasing — the deficit reduction without ever giving up a dime in taxes.”  We agree with our colleague Dave Johnson: this was the ideal time for Democrats to take a strong stand, especially on behalf of the unemployed. And now the time has passed.

Read More