March 8, 2010

Conservative vs. Progressive: One finds the Unemployed Offensive; the other Shows Empathy.

American liberals care about others, even total strangers. Conservatives care about themselves, their kin, their cronies -- and power.  Liberals – Democrats! - gave Americans Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, Family Leave, Medicare and Medicaid. And always against the resistance of conservatives – Republicans! - who also resisted the GI Bill, the civil rights act, and the New Deal.

Knowing history, then, we are not surprised when a conservative politician, Jim Bunning of Kentucky, exploited Senate rules recently to block a one-month extension of unemployment benefits. In the end, he relented, but by then payments to around 100,000 workers were interrupted. And now he’s a hero among his callous kind.

Jon Kyl of Arizona, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, defended Sen. Bunning’s positions by declaring on TV that unemployment relief “doesn’t create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work.”  Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and flank after flank of GOP media megaphones push that same old conservative line. For Paul Krugman, the Nobel economist , it just isn’t true.

“That’s a bizarre point of view — but then, I don’t live in Mr. Kyl’s universe.” writes Krugman in The New York Times. For him, the universe of the Bennings, the Kyls, the Limbaughs and Hannitys, is immoral.

Kyl warned that Republicans are still fighting for repeal of the “death tax.” Yet the House has already passed a bill to exempt 99.75 per cent of estates from being taxed. Not enough for Kyl as long as that 0,25 per cent have to part with some of their fabulous wealth. ”One party feels for the unemployed, while the other weeps over the mega-rich few,” notes Krugman. (Notice that conservatives always call this the death tax so that even those who don’t pay it will find it repelling.)

That reminds me of George Bush flying over Katrina-devasted New Orleans – slow to react - and commenting that the disaster showed the need to lower taxes. We know what he meant: the taxes on his rich pals, not those poor bastards waiting desperately for help on the ground. 

More proof: Yesterday former Republican Speaker of the House Tom DeLay told CNN that people are unemployed "because they want to be."

“Someday, somehow," said Krugman, "we as a nation will once again find ourselves living on the same planet. But for now, we aren’t. And that’s just the way it is."

Here's another heartless Republican, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, explaining in mid-April why he voted against the preservation of unemployment insurance benefits for laid-off Americans:

"On this Tax Day, as an overburdened Nation staggering under dangerous deficits, we need to send this bill back to the drawing board and return with legislation that is paid for that will not create more debt… it is impossible to ignore the fact that those extra 73 weeks of Federal benefits paid today, a full 17 months courtesy of Federal taxpayers, come at an enormous price…"

Sure, he's worried about spending taxpayer's money. Sure. But hey, this is the same Rep. Kevin Brady who voted  to preserve spending for the F-22 fighter jet, an airplane that requires more than 30 hours of maintenance for every hour in the air, that was designed for dogfights with the nonexistent Soviets, and that the Defense Department declared it does not want or need. (Sarah Palin also declared her outrage that the Defense Department would kill the F-22 program.) 

More wasteful proposals from Rep. Brady can be found here:

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