Friday, November 19, 2010

Congress Votes to Throw Unemployed to the Sharks

Yesterday, congress failed to reach the two-thirds majority it needed to extend unemployment benefits to an estimated 2 million American workers. If you’ve been out of work longer than six months, you may be off the dole by the end of this year and struggling to find a job that doesn't exist. House leaders plan another vote on the matter by the end of the month. However, Republicans have twice succeeded in blocking extensions to unemployment benefits by filibustering. The cuts to unemployment benefits come in the wake of another week of increased jobless claims.

As mentioned in a previous post, states are seeking to prop up profits and wealth for the rich by squeezing workers. Michigan's Governor elect, Rick Snyder, is calling state workers' compensation the next big national issue, on scale with health care. Of course, if legislators and governors really cared about the majority of Americans, they'd pay for their deficits by raising taxes on corporations and the rich, levying royalties on energy companies, freeing nonviolent offenders, ending the death penalty and taxing marijuana. These, of course, are all anathema to both politicians and the wealthy. So the only alternative is to create new straw men to knock down: greedy, selfish and overly-compensated, state workers, teachers and other government employees.

State deficits, were caused primarily by the collapse of housing markets and financial institutions. However, the financial institutions have been bailed out and are now making record profits, the recession has been declared officially over, yet unemployment remains high, middle class and working class wealth and living standards have declined, and foreclosures continue to rise. The Dow Jones jumped 173 points yesterday on news of GM’s first stock offerings since its bailout. Investors made millions on the deal, including the United Auto Workers, with the profits based largely on layoffs and concessions by rank and file members of the UAW.

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