Friday, November 26, 2010

Fight over four-letter words

The November elections did nothing to change a Congress that is polarized and petulant. And when Republicans take control of the House next year, it promises to be even worse—if that's possible.

Last week, the GOP and a handful of Blue Dog Democrats blocked extension of benefits to the unemployed—again.

To them, work seems to be a four-letter word, especially when preceded by the words "out of."

R-i-c-h is also a four-letter word, but it's a lot more popular and easier to talk about in mixed company, especially if that company donates to political campaigns.

Maybe that's why GOP leaders can champion continuation of tax cuts for the rich at the same time they want to cut off benefits to the unemployed. Maybe that's why it's impossible for them to recognize the utter irony of hating a bill that would spend money on the unemployed while loving a bill that would spend money on the rich—all the while shedding tears over the burgeoning national deficit.

Is that why even President Obama is waffling?

Every Republican and Democrat who can carry around this contradiction without his or her head exploding should come to the Wood River Valley and tell residents why cutting off checks that the unemployed spend and giving money to the rich that they won't spend is a good idea in an economy that desperately needs spending.

Republicans and Blue Dog Dems seem to believe that going hungry, declaring bankruptcy, losing a home or becoming homeless are a kind of character-building program for less-than-wealthy Americans.

In the Great Recession, the innocents are suffering. Bandits are going unscathed and making off with the loot. And the protections for w-o-r-k are losing out to the entitlements of the r-i-c-h. All the while, true statesmen are nowhere to be found and justice is endangered.

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