It was too much to take even for seven Republican members of the House today, as Congress neared a vote on a budget deal that fails to renew federal unemployment benefits for 1.3 million jobless Americans. The seven Republicans joined Democrats trying to add that into the deal, throwing a lifeline to folks facing disaster Dec. 28 when their jobless benefits run out.
But House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ill., said “No!” He claimed extending jobless benefits would blow a $25 billion hole into the savings in the budget deal that the House was going to vote on.
No reasonable person can possibly justify such indifference and cruelty.
For many families hunger is just around the corner this Christmas because Boehner recently oversaw the deepest cuts ever in the food stamp program.
The callous indifference of the GOP leadership is made worse by the fact that there is only one job available for every three Americans out of work.
And failure to extend the benefits will guarantee that in 2014 another 4 million people will face the same fate that the 1.3 million face this week.
It amounts to putting a dagger in the heart of an economy still struggling to recover. Even the pro-corporate Wall Street Journal has cited a recent Economic Policy Institute report stating failure to extend benefits will subtract almost $40 billion from the economy next year and will actually result in a further addition of 339,000 people to the unemployment rolls. That’s how many jobs could be created if the jobless were out there spending those extended benefits.
As it stands, the compromise budget unfortunately does nothing to create the many millions of jobs needed to end the unemployment disaster, and it does not close a single tax loophole currently enjoyed by the wealthy, well-fed 1 percent.
With not a single good economic, political or humane reason for doing so, Boehner has told this nation’s jobless that they can drop dead. He does this to please a radical right cabal and its corporate backers who care nothing for people, democracy or even the nation itself.
What must be done is clear. We must continue to grow the movement of labor and all its allies that can turn this nation around. And in 2014, we must vote out of office Boehner and every other GOP lawmaker who is responsible for this inhumanity.
Photo: The expiration of unemployment benefits is going to increase the number of people unable to feed themselves. Pictured is a food pantry in suburban Illinois. WBEZ.org