NYT to 99ers: Chances for new benefits ‘slim to none’


Senate Democrats, on six-week vacation, seem to agree

Reporter Michael Luo came through this week with a story on the long-term unemployed, which was more or less a case study of how dangerous it is to lose your job in an America that’s drifting into stagnation, maybe stagflation. Luo wrote that “the political appetite to help [the jobless] seems limited.”

What would FDR think of today's Dems?

The Times should spend less time forecasting doom and more on covering efforts to help the jobless. For example, activists this week persuaded Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to introduce a bill that would 1) secure up to 20 more weeks of benefits to those who’ve exhausted their unemployment claims and 2) provide tax credits and other incentives to businesses that hire the long-term unemployed.

But the Senate went on its annual six-week summer vacation almost as soon as the bill was introduced, which means those who’ve exhausted their benefits are left high and dry until some time in the fall when the legislation may or may not come to a vote.

So why are Dem politicians so timid in efforts to help their core constituents? The Times editorial writers haven’t ventured a guess this week, and its reporters don’t seem all that interested.

Michael Thornton, who blogs for the Rochester Unemployment Examiner, got it right today: “…the unemployed/underemployed, which currently number about 30 million, could be the electoral force that brings down the Democrats; not because the Republicans are preferred, but because the unemployed, and especially the 99ers, could simply stay home and not vote.”

Who could blame them? I wonder what Franklin D. Roosevelt would think of the current crop of Democrats in the federal legislature, and of the Democrat in the White House. FDR pushed through legislation that put millions of Americans back to work during the Depression, and he raised the country’s morale by openly challenging Republicans and other cynics who were trying to shrug off sky-high unemployment and poverty rates.

My guess is that FDR would publicly challenge today’s cowardly Dem incumbents. Then he’d charm them into doing the right thing. Barack Obama doesn’t seem capable of either challenging or charming anyone, not when it counts.

Quotable: Paul Krugman, from his column that bashes Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), new hero of believers in voodoo economics: “One depressing aspect of American politics is the susceptibility of the political and media establishment to charlatans.”

The Weasel Watch: David Brooks wrote last week that “We could look back on the period between 1980 and 2006 as the long boom and the period between 2007 and 2014 or so as the nasty crawl…” But there was no boom, except for the wealthy. All other income groups experienced a period of long, slow decline. As usual, Brooks is pushing an agenda based on faulty premises and outright lies. He pretends to yearn for a “moderate” approach to economic growth while praising extreme right-wingers like Paul Ryan, who “wants to cleanse and rejuvenate the nation.”

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