Home > Uncategorized > My Wake-Up Call To Senate Republicans

My Wake-Up Call To Senate Republicans

I spent the morning researching records of Senate Republicans who have voted in lockstep against extending unemployment benefits to some 2.5  million Americans.

Although some temporary watered down version may pass, much of the blame is on the shoulders of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for screwing up the process.

Rather, my focus was on the Republicans as to why their apparent disdain for the unemployed now numbering in total at about 26 million.

One argument is the $22 billion additional cost is not paid for and would add to the budget deficit. The increase would push the debt to $9.8 billion, an increase of debt to GDP ratio from 65.3% to 65.4%.

Another argument is that unemployment benefits discourage people from looking for jobs at a time when there is only one job for every five applicants.

The lead Republican was Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky back in February until he folded March 2. Since then with the Republican conservative base led by Tea Party advocates, the GOP senators have concluded it is a political gamble worth the risk to single out the unemployed as their belt-tightening whipping people.

They turn their backs on the progressives pitch that unemployment benefits are a direct influx of cash to a Deep Recession economy, much more effective than tax credits to businesses.

Since this impasse started, I have been troubled as to how serious are these Republicans to their corps values.

I took the most fattest calf  of all domestic programs — the farm subsidy bill passed by the Senate 81-15 in May 2007 — and compared it to the unemployment numbers in each of the states represented by Republican senators.

It was a $307 billion monstrosity with $35 billion earmarked for farm subsidies and $209 billion for food stamps and nutritional programs.

Yes, this is an apples to oranges comparison but there is a pattern. Only seven of the current Republicans voted against the farm bill, 26 in favor and three were absent.

Those magnificent seven are at least consistent in their voting records against the bloated farm bill and unemployment benefits.

They are Jon Kyl of Arizona, Richard Lugar of Indiana, Susan Collins of Maine, John Ensign of Nevada, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, George Voinovich of Ohio and Robert Bennett of Utah.

Only Lugar’s Indiana was a major benefactor, receiving $871.9 million for 70,993 farmers, based on the most recent breakdown in 2005 in which most subsidies were extended in the fiscal 2008 farm bill.

I also compared current total unemployment numbers for all the states represented by Republican senators.

This is where I found a huge discrepancy between hard-nosed policy of holding the money purse compared to unemployed constituents.

Here is a list of states, farm subsidies and unemployment (June 2010) Republican senators represent. Keep in mind the subsidy numbers are five years old but still within reasonable ballpark range for this comparison. The unemployment numbers include those still on the books under all categories determined by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.

Alabama — $241 million for 23,619 farmers, 209,000 unemployed.
Alaska — $3.8M for 755 farmers, 28,000 unemployed.
Florida — $392.7M, 12,506 farmers, 1 million unemployed.
Georgia — $482.1M, 30,232 farmers, 469,200 unemployed.
Idaho — $176.3M, 16,317 farmers, 63,000 unemployed.
Indiana — $871.9M, 70,993 farmers, 306,500 unemployed.
Iowa — $2.2 billion, 119,912 farmers, 194,900 unemployed.
Kansas — $1.1B , 107,675 farmers, 94,300 unemployed.
Kentucky — $214.9M, 54,548 farmers, 209,000 unemployed.
Louisiana — $305.2M, 28,342 farmers, 148,900 unemployed.
Maine — $16.8M, 1,949 farmers, 54,900 unemployed.
Massachusetts — $7.9M, 830 farmers, 313,600 unemployed.
Mississippi — $754.6M, 30,566 farmers, 144,600 unemployed.
Missouri — $645.2M, 75,877 farmers, 261,600 unemployed.
Nebraska — $1.4B, 73,151 farmers, 45,200 unemployed.
Nevada — $8.4M, 566 farmers, 189,300 unemployed.
New Hampshire — $2.4M, 401 farmers, 43,600 unemployed.
North Carolina — $386.3M, 29,124 farmers, 450,000 unemployed.
Ohio — $571.5M, 60,865 farmers, 599,500 unemployed.
Oklahoma — $295.3M, 49,093 farmers, 127,400 unemployed.
South Carolina — $116.4M, 13,610 farmers, 226,500 unemployed.
South Dakota — $796M, 41,880 farmers, 20,000 unemployed.
Tennessee — $250.2M, 37,289 farmers, 299,200 unemployed.
Texas — $1.97B, 99,175 farmers, 975,300 unemployed.
Utah — $41.1M, 5,021 farmers, 96,200 unemployed.
Wyoming — $63M, 5,208 farmers, 19,900 unemployed.

It seems to me Congress has no problem subsidizing farmers to keep prices down and in return get a good bang for their buck.

Wouldn’t the same hold true by buying time for  a huge chunk of the 26 million unemployed to find jobs when the economy rebounds to a more acceptable 5% rate than the current 9.5% which in reality is closer to 13% or greater?

The Republicans, I fear, cling to a policy of rewarding one constituency at the expense of another. It forces a conclusion they think the unemployed don’t vote and the perception they are unworthy.

They’re being penny-wise and pound foolish, I think.

As for the Senate Democrats, for shame. They got snookered.

——————–

EPILOGUE

As to the farm bill vote in 2007, I think more than seven Republicans would vote against it in today’s political climate more in tune with the kool-aid they drink from demands by a much more vociferous base.

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