June 24, 2010

Boo-Hoo: Leftists, Media Cry Out Because Filibuster May Mean End of Unemployment Gravy Train

Q: When has spending money you don't have ever gotten you out of debt?

A: Never.

It's an unassailable fact, but ideologues such as Steve Benen and Matthew Yglesias can't seem to grasp such a simple concept, as they moan and wail because it appears a Republican filibuster may finally end the unending unemployment gravy train:

Democrats control 59 seats in the Senate but expect to lose the vote of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), meaning they would need the votes of at least two Republicans to cross the 60-vote threshold.

The package includes tax breaks for businesses and individuals, as well as emergency support for millions of jobless workers who have exhausted their regular 26-week state benefits. Unless Congress acts, an estimated 900,000 people will have their checks cut off by the end of the month.

The filibuster has support because Republicans and Nelson understand that you can't keep plunging the country further into debt and expect to climb out of a recession. By stopping unemployment benefits, the Senate will force those lazy Americans enjoying "funemployment" to get off their backsides and get back to work.

I know that many long-term unemployed people have made a sincere effort to return to work, but I know for a fact that many haven't.

As everyone like anecdotes, I can mention the stories of one of my brother and my two brothers-in-law. My brother was in construction management, one of my brothers-in-law is in auto body shop management, and the other brother-in-law is a mid-level manager.

All three lost jobs within the past two years due to their companies facing economic woes. My brother immediately sent out resumes and spoke with industry contacts in his area, and was re-employed—working longer hours at less pay—within a month. With his work ethic, I suspect he be promoted once an opportunity becomes available.

My brother-in-law the body shop manager has gone through a string of layoffs in south Florida, but never was out of work for long because he was willing to compromise and take less than he thought he was worth to support his family. He even moved from Florida to North Carolina in pursuit of work opportunities, and seems to be making a good impression at his new shop.

My brother-in-law the middle-manager has been under-employed over a year. He works a part-time job and collects unemployment.

When he does get interviews, he torpedoes them. He recently told a perspective employer that what they were offering salary-wise wasn't good enough.

These anecdotes run true almost everywhere. Those who sincerely want to work and have the drive and marketable skills are working. Those who don't want to work are coasting off what the taxpayers will allow for as long as they can.

We can't keep subsidizing such people, and it isn't right to ask others who work hard to go deeper in debt to bail out those who won't work.

The Senate seems to grasp that.

Too bad liberals don't.

6/30 Update: I'm happy to report that my brother-in-law finally got a job, with benefits, though at a lower rate of pay than he thinks he is worth. Isn't it interesting that it occurred so soon after finding out that his unemployment was coming to an end?

Obviously, that doesn't describe the situation of everyone on unemployment, but let me suggest that if you've been unemployed for more than a year, you might want to reconsider your career path, and start thinking about picking up more marketable skills.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at June 24, 2010 12:07 PM

This is going to put hundreds of thousands of people out of work and push us into a widening recession. It's not "leftists" crying out about this, it's people who care about their country. Thos GOP is purposefully sabotaging the economy.

Posted by: Not Likely at June 24, 2010 02:02 PM

By stopping unemployment benefits, the Senate will force those lazy Americans enjoying "funemployment" to get off their backsides and get back to work.

There's a good argument to made for ending unemployment benefits in some cases, but pretending that millions of Americans are sitting at home goofing off and refusing jobs is not it.

Posted by: flenser at June 24, 2010 02:14 PM

I was going to object to what you wrote, CY, on the grounds that I have collected unemployment myself on several occasions after being laid off. But then I remembered that the only time my unemployment benefits ever came close to running out was in 2002, when I was out of work for ten months. And I distinctly remember that I didn't ever consider jobs that paid less than $10 per hour, because that would have been less than what I was getting on unemployment (assuming I spent 40 hours a week job hunting, which I frankly never did).

As it happens, the unemployment payments DID get extended in 2002. But eventually, I started getting close to the expiration of the extended benefits. So I applied for, and got, a job that paid $10 per hour. And I worked at that job while hunting in my spare time, until I found another job at a much better rate.

So yes, unemployment checks did encourage me to turn down gainful employment. Not out of laziness, but simply because it didn't make sense to take a pay cut if I didn't have to.

Posted by: Sundog at June 24, 2010 02:37 PM

I have read and enjoyed your blog for a couple of years. I am very conservative and always have been, but I have to say your comments on this issue are short-sighted, callous and deeply hurtful. I am staunchly for the private sector free enterprise capitalist way of life and hate what this current administration is doing to our economy, but I donít have a great deal of hope it will get better until they are voted out of office. I thought I would put a face on this for you to perhaps enlighten you to what it is like to be one of those currently unemployed. I realize there are a percentage of unemployed workers who abuse the system, but the majority of unemployed workers are probably similar to me. I just turned 61 and I have worked without interruption for 39 years. I have been out of work since November 2008. My job was eliminated. My company was one of the large investment banks that no longer exist. I spent two consecutive 18 year employment turns: One with a large corporation that is about to go bankrupt after over 100 years in business and 18 years with this bank. My retirement was virtually wiped out when the bank went under and what was left I had to use to attempt to remain solvent through last year while I continued to seek employment. I have applied to every sector, public and private that I could think of and have looked out of state for jobs paying 75% less than what I earned before. I have had four interviews in the 20 months Iíve been looking. Iíve encountered endless examples of age discrimination and am vying with kids right out of school for the same job. Do you think I can get a job flipping burgers or working at Home Depot? Guess again. When hiring managers see my experience (I am a former Managing Director) they promptly move on to the 1-5 year experience range category. Iím not eligible for social security for another year; my husband who is 61 is not eligible and is disabled. We no longer have health insurance. My severance ended in December of last year and I exhausted all my savings until I could no longer pay my mortgage and the majority of my bills with the $1,600 a month I get from New York State. As a consequence we are facing foreclosure and bankruptcy and I have four weeks of unemployment checks left; the proposed extension would buy me a little more time until hopefully I can get a job. I have seriously contemplated suicide; perhaps you think I am adding this for melodrama - I am not. I have one child who is 25 and struggling in his first job to make ends meet; we tell him he is blessed to have a job and he alone prevents me from completely giving up. I remind those of you who would brand me a social pariah and leech that I paid far more into the unemployment insurance system than I am getting out of it, I hate my situation and find it unbearable and I am deeply ashamed to be in this position. I am happy for all of you who have jobs but you need to understand that these unemployment checks barely pay the necessary utility bills, gas and feed oneís family in the majority of cases. Please donít be so quick to judge those of us who are good honest people who have worked hard all our lives and lost everything we had to show for it through no fault of our own and put us with the minority of losers who abuse the system.

Posted by: American at June 24, 2010 02:44 PM

This is a very emotional issue. I personally have gone back to school (on my own dime) since losing my business in 2008. Being self employed I didnt qualify for unemployment. Even though as an employer I paid out the nose in taxes. I have had two cars repossessed, a foreclosure, have been sued by business landlord for breaking lease. All total I owe close to 4 million in judgements. I am in the process of the bankruptcy which is my only option. I am about to finish chefs school and just accepted a job for $11 per hour. It sucks but I'm glad to get it. I will have a hard time surviving on this amount. But I will survive. Eventually I will get back to a six figure income. But I have a hard time feeling sympathy for those that have exhausted what I couldnt even get and demand more. I dont have much use for government. Overall it is a drain and a burden that is only getting worse with each administration. This is one time the Republicans have gotten it right. If you have to foreclose and file bankruptcy. Then just do it. Dont whine about it. Do it, start over and move on. If your over 55 and no one wants to hire you. You may have to look into starting your own business. Is it scary? Hell yes, but thats what built this country.

Posted by: capt26thga at June 24, 2010 05:01 PM

cap, how were you not eligable? I owned my own business for 17 years until last December when I sold it. I've been on unemployment since then. Talk about a tough time finding a job. I've applied for dozens and haven't gotten one call back. I'm in the same boat as one of the other commenters above, I'm getting more money than I would with a $40,000 job. But where I disagree with CY is that I've contributed well over $300,000 to unemployment as an owner and when I went through my records (this isn't perfect but it's close) the total amount claimed in unemployment over the 17 years is just shy of $90,000. Why don't I get a check for $200,000? Didn't I earn that money that the government took by force?

Posted by: Capitalist Infidel at June 25, 2010 07:49 AM

I want unemployment capped because we do not have the money to support folks looking for the perfect job for years, we are broke and in debt and we must stop spending, if I were in charge I would stop alot more spending like the space program, money to hamas, money to the un, foreign aid and yes even welfare and food stamps.

Jobs can be found, may not pay much or be the fun jobs but they are available.

Posted by: duncan at June 25, 2010 12:55 PM

And while we're at it, paring down unnecessary spending, why don't we tell the UN to find some other site in some other country in which to diss the United States. They've had a relatively free ride in our great country for too many years. The land on which the UN building stands is a greatly valuable income producer, and I'm getting tired of housing the UN whiners/complainers when the land could be put to much better use. Maybe Switzerland would be a good lace to send them. The Swiss are both intelligent and pragmatic. They've had to be, surrounded as they are by other countries that could turn cranky at any minute. And they would draw the line at hostile complaints far sooner than we would.

Marianne Matthews

Posted by: Marianne Matthews at June 25, 2010 01:53 PM

Cap infidel... I dont know! You would have to ask the state of Florida. I submitted my paperwork and was told tough luck. You dont qualify. I called and inquired to no avail. I did tell them any more money from me would come at gunpoint. If they are going to be extortionist thieves they may as well play the part.

Posted by: capt26thga at June 27, 2010 01:03 PM

Tax breaks and incentives really don't do a damn thing if the jobs don't exist. One good example is the construction industry. There are a lot of companies that would like to hire workers but what is the point in hiring workers you can't support. Liberals don't seem to understand the difference between fantasy and reality and the fact that extending unemployment benefits is just creating a new welfare class.

Posted by: Penny at June 29, 2010 11:59 AM

What you're missing Penny is that jobs won't exist until there is more demand for goods and services. Which won't exist until there is money in the pockets of the middle and lower classes to spend, which is why extending benefits to keep people in their homes and circulating money in the economy makes MORE sense than cutting millions of people off, (making them homeless, which is a problem we'll then have to deal with - talk about creating a new welfare class!) further reducing the spending in our economy and losing more jobs. D'ya see the downward spiral the conservatives are on here?

All these stories about "friends of friends" who are unemployed yada yada yada... only serve to make you feel justified in cutting off employment benefits and putting MILLIONS of hard-working people out of their homes.

Posted by: Proud Liberal at June 29, 2010 12:49 PM

Republicans are not against helping the unemployed. Democrats are refusing to use money we already have and playing political gottcha games. I refer to the so-called Stimulus money sitting in Washington for "shovel ready" projects like the fancy new road to nowhere in my city park that did not create jobs (but did create busy work for some local city employees) It no- doubt did cost a lot of money, it is a mighty fine road to nowhere. Why can't a portion of these funds be used to help people out of work as proposed by the Republicans rather than create useless jobs that have no impact on the economy whatsoever? Why needlessly increase the deficit? Why do we need $1 billion for summer youth programs when people are struggling to provide for their families?

Posted by: American at June 29, 2010 04:45 PM

American: God bless you, and good luck to you. But your Republican/Democrat views are truly warped. The Republican party is wholeheartedly in favor of dog-eat-dog capitalism; you're having trouble swimming? Then you deserve to sink. The Republican party is dedicated to corporate greed.

I have been amazed all my life that so many people of ordinary means have consistently been swindled into voting for the party whose interests are solely those of the rich. The best analysis I have read is that many of these people dream that one day they, too, will be one of the privileged few. According to probability theory: not likely.

Posted by: tequilamockingbird at June 29, 2010 10:43 PM

flenser: are you the NeoNeocon guy? If so, you may remember me. I was booted off for specious reasons.

Say hi to ymarksar and the boys for me!

Posted by: tequilamockingbird at June 29, 2010 10:45 PM

American: I am truly sympathetic to your plight. We don't agree politically, but I want to encourage you to keep strong and keep thinking of your son. You seem to have lived a good and decent life; I really hope things will work out for you.

Posted by: tequilamockingbird at June 29, 2010 10:53 PM

American: I can't get your message out of my mind. I'm concerned about you. Would you like to talk? If you want me to, I'll give you my e-mail address.

Posted by: tequilamockingbird at June 29, 2010 11:06 PM

Oh, what the hell. I'm Please let me know you're all right.

Posted by: tequilamockingbird at June 29, 2010 11:25 PM

Wake up people! We could fund this shortfall alone by getting the F out of Afghanistan. Please provide the logic behind dumping billions of dollars into this God forsaken hellhole while yanking unemployment benefits to our OWN!!?? To state that people are not working by choice is ridiculous. I've never had a gap in employment in my life (knock on wood) since I was 14...I am now 30, have a good job, and a worthless degree which destroyed my credit. I did all the right good grades, worked part time throughout college, etc. When I got out, it took me five years to get a job, the one I currently have, to make enough to pay all my bills. In the meantime, through deferments, collections, and the like, my credit was destroyed as I fell for the great American farce that is higher education. Sadly, I only see this unemployment gap getting worse which will inevitably lead to more crime & violence and at that point we'll be spending more to build our already largest-in-the-world prison industry. This will in turn, harm the ability of business investment to spur growth in areas where there are more per capita unemployment rates and, ironically, where that growth is needed most.

Posted by: Bill at June 30, 2010 10:10 AM

American: The current administration is not the source of your trouble. You didn't lose your job because Obama was elected-- you lost it because the policies of the people you supported hollowed out what you thought was solid. The sad truth is you're getting what you bought these last 30 years.

Posted by: Dave at June 30, 2010 12:15 PM

Note to Marianne Matthews - the land in Turtle Bay upon which the UN complex is sited actually belongs to the UN. John D. Rockefeller donated it to them.

Posted by: Robert at July 1, 2010 05:56 PM