Friday, July 23, 2010

One Tired-Ass (and Heartless) Meme

Meme.: A concept that spreads swiftly via the Internet.

Thank you, Wikipedia.

And I'll emphatically add: a concept that, more often than not, ain't necessarily true the deeper one looks.

Take for example this recent meme: "Heartless and hateful Republicans don't want to extend unemployment benefits! Bastards!" If not those exact words, pretty darn close.

A liberal friend, who happens to be unemployed, said to me recently, "it scares me that so many republican politicians carelessly brush aside our (at this point) absolute dependence on unemployment money." That's quote for quote.

This bothered me.

So, I asked my heartless self: Was I a member of the heartless party heartlessly denying hearty unemployment insurance (UI) extension to millions of hearty Americans.

Turns out, um, no, not really.

The then-proposed UI extension, some $34 billion, was a part of a larger $200 billion stimulus (Swindle Us) bill, per the WaPo:

The extension was first introduced in a nearly $200 billion package of economic measures sought by the Obama administration, including fresh aid to state governments and extended health insurance subsidies for the unemployed.

$200 billion? Shoot, that means that not even 1/4 of the money was going to go to UI. So, naturally....

Republicans blasted the spending plan, and conservative Democrats revolted, demanding that the package be scaled back.

So it was:

Democratic leaders spent the next two months tossing various items overboard until nothing was left but the least controversial bit of spending: income support for unemployed workers. Democrats downsized even that program, dropping a $25-a-week bonus for all jobless workers* that had been enacted under last year's stimulus package.

Two months. (Or, if you're unemployed, that's better said, "Two fucking months!")

Yet, our dear President made strong allusions to it being all the GOP's fault, saying that it was just partisan tactics "that unconscionably held up unemployment insurance."

On really?

If extending UI was such an "emergency" as was argued by liberals, why didn't the Democrat-controlled Congress propose a straight-as-an-arrow UI bill?

Well, first of all, UI extensions have been a part of stimulus packages before, so that's no surprise. And it's no surprise that there was opposition to the first version wanting an additional $166 billion in spending—particularly in light of the $800 billion in TARP that isn't working as advertised. Basically, what the GOP said was, "Hey, we're fine (sort of**) with extending UI bennies, but you've got to cut the rest of this crap out of here. And explain how we'll pay for this while you're at it."

That took 2 months. The ball was in their court for 2 months.

Yes, "Those heartless and hateful Republicans!" "brushing aside" the unemployed.

Grab your hip waders, the memes are deep and plentiful. On both sides.

*What? What is this?
** Another $34 billion borrowed from our Chinese buddies. Oye. And yes, with a vote 272 to 152 there was still GOP opposition to the bill. For good reason.***
***At 99 weeks, when do the extensions end? At 9% unemployment? 8%? 6%? At some point, there has to be a cutoff. Having the political cajones to do so, is another question

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