Friday, December 13, 2013

Get Them Out Before They Do More Damage

As both the House and Senate begin to wrap up their latest embarrassing display of gutlessness and cowardice, we can't help but be glad to see them get the hell of out of town.

After passing a budget bill that's draconian and regressive, the House slammed through a temporary stopgap Farm Bill. They also jammed through a $632.8 billion defense bill that will keep in place billions of dollars of Pentagon boondoggles.

House Republicans also insisted on stuffing deficit reduction into the budget they rapidly pushed through at the last minute. Unsurprisingly, it didn't seem to matter to Republicans that the federal budget deficit already is continuing to narrow rapidly, even without any further assistance from Congress. The safety of America's kids also didn't seem to matter to Congress, since one year after the horrible carnage at the school in Sandy Hook, Congress has still only passed one gun safety bill.

After that kind of half-assed governing, we don't frankly care how Congress gets out of town. We just want them gone before they do any more legislative damage. If Jeff Bezos over at the Washington Post wants to lend us some drones, we'll happily hook up a few members of Congress to his flying robots - from either side of the aisle - if it'll get them out of our sight any faster.

Sadly, due to a temper tantrum continuing to be thrown by the ever-childish Republicans in the Senate, members of the upper chamber will have to stick around - and actually remain in session - into the wee hours of Sunday morning. Thanks to Senate rules, after 30 hours of Republicans like Ted Cruz pointlessly stamping their little feet in "debate", Senate Democrats will approve a few more presidential nominees over the weekend. Then, finally, the Senators will join their spineless colleagues from the House in the trek home for the holidays, where they'll try and convince the voters that they're doing a swell job representing the voter's interests.

We're fairly certain no matter how those members of Congress travel home, they'll end up getting a meal on the way. After all, lobbyists throw fundraisers just about anywhere these days.

However, as Greg Sargent pointed out Thursday afternoon, about 1.3 million Americans had better enjoy the meals they're having now - because just a few days after Christmas, all those Americans will be losing their long-term unemployment benefits.

We're not talking about Americans who are lazy, and just got thrown off their jobs. As Ed Kilgore pointed out in the Washington Monthly this week, short-term unemployment is now lower than it was in 2007, before the Great Bush Recession. No, we're talking about the long-term unemployed that - as Ed also notes - Congress treated as disposable in the budget bill now before the Senate.

Unfortunately, long-term unemployment remains stubbornly high - and there are still about three Americans searching for every one available job. That's a far cry from when President Obama took over nearly five years ago at the nadir of the Great Recession, when there were seven Americans searching for every single available job. Those statistics, thankfully, are significantly improved. That said,  great numbers on a chart still won't feed the million-plus of our fellow citizens who've been perpetually left without a seat at the jobs table by this do-nothing Congress - and who got left out again in the current horrible budget deal.

'Merry Christmas' and 'Happy Holidays' from your U.S. Congress, everyone.