Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Unemployment worse than usual, but people getting less and less from Washington

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One crucial reason why citizens don’t trust politicians is that they don’t feel like politicians are on their side — unless they are running for re-election. Because House districts are so rigged, incumbents rarely lose, and when they do, usually that time comes in the primary or activities leading up to the primary.

Senators have a significant incumbency advantage, but running statewide is more difficult.

If you are unemployed in 2010, or if someone close to you is unemployed, you would hope that if politicians cared, they would care simply to get re-elected. But when it comes to the unemployment issue, politicians seem to be running in the other direction.

Sure, the House of Representatives is passing legislation. And the Democratic Party is working hard to pass legislation. But it hasn’t been enough.

The Democrats are trying to just tread water, extending unemployment benefits. And the Republicans have decided that the unemployed aren’t worth fighting for, even in an election year.

The GOP is hiding behind not wanting to run up deficit spending, but the track record of this party — despite their words — hasn’t backed up their talk.

Here are the latest numbers:

— The economy lost 125,000 jobs in June for the first time this calendar year.

— The unemployment rate rests at 9.5%.

— This country has always extended unemployment benefits when the rate was above 7.2%.

Harry Reid is running for re-election, but Reid is also the Senate Majority Leader. And Reid hasn’t whipped his troops into shape. Ben Nelson (D-NE) is hiding behind the “deficit spending” defense.

To be fair, West Virginia is down one senator and the two Maine senators get how important the unemployment issue. Betcha Martha Coakley would have voted for the unemployment extension.

And when the MSM actually acknowledges there could be a problem, the situation is presented in an incomplete, biased presentation. This typical example from ABC News demonstrates the approach: only have one quote and have that be from a Republican; phrase the headline as “Congress’ fault’ without pointing out that one party isn’t cooperating; not mention that spending stimulus money (which was lowered because the GOP demanded unneeded tax cuts) is robbing Peter to pay Paul.

“To take money from job creation to fund unemployment benefits makes no sense,” noted Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). That seems obvious, but we are dealing with politicians.

In past economic downturns, the Congress and president have had a similar strategy: do as little as possible, but do something. But we are in a much worse economic scenario, and we are getting less help from Washington, not more — when the people need more.

We have seen tons of anecdotal evidence that employers are going for “recent college graduates” or asking for “little or no experience.” We have seen anecdotal proof that employers who have jobs available (theoretically) making job prospects jump through nearly impossible hoops just for an interview.

Or some employers are telling prospects they want to talk, and when people call back, their calls and e-mails are ignored.

People who want jobs are working hard. We should expect — and demand — that our politicians work just as hard to help those who need economic help. And not just because politicians might lose their jobs. Even if the politicians do lose their jobs, they won’t suffer nearly as much as people outside the Beltway. If nothing else, if they had a clue — mostly Republicans — as to what is happening, they might work just a little bit harder at their jobs — while they still had them.

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Written by democracysoup

July 2, 2010 at 8:24 am

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