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Gaming the System

© Matt Davies

Billions of dollars to bail out the banks, but nothing for the unemployed who lost their jobs because of the financial crisis brought on by the banks. What makes this doubly ironic is that the Republicans claim that extending unemployment benefits would only encourage people without jobs to avoid looking for work. But by the same token, won’t bailing out the banks (and even worse, letting the bankers keep their million dollar bonuses) just encourage them to keep making the risky investments that caused the whole crisis in the first place?

And the irony doesn’t stop there. Since a bad economy tends to encourage votes against the party in power, Republicans will probably be rewarded for their filibusters against extending unemployment benefits, including getting more votes from the very unemployed people they are deliberately hurting.



  1. Karin wrote:

    I do not understand how republicans can stop extended unemployment benefits when they are a minority in both congress and the senate. Likely I am in a comfortable majority in this belief that the party in power should be able to rule.

    Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 9:12 am | Permalink
  2. Ruth wrote:

    Sadly, most people don’t pay enough attention to know how these Republican filibusters affect them both short- and long-term. And I suspect that the noise made by the GOP about the wrongness of the bank bailouts (never mind that it was on THEIR watch that it happened, at least in the Executive Branch) will drown out other voices during the election cycle.

    Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    Karin, Senate rules require 60 votes to end a filibuster, so at least one or two Republicans have to cooperate in order to pass anything.

    Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Permalink
  4. patriotsgt wrote:

    I will have to take the unpopular other side on this one at least partly. Firstly, to be fair, the moderate rupubs were in favor of extending benefits but wanted it paid for by some other spending reduction and not funded by deficit spending. On the issue of extending benefits for someone who has not found work after 2 years, I’m not sure another 6 months will make any difference in achieving that. Through my work dealings I interact with a good number of people who have been layed off or lost their job during this recession. Although every situation is different, I know of several people who do not want to go back to work because they make a comfortable living on unemployment. They’ve flat out told me they will ride this train until forced to return to the workforce. Others whne I ask how their job search is going say they posted resume’s online and are waiting for someone to call. I ask if they’ve been out to any employers locally and they say it’sthe only jobs available are not the kind of work they like. There are some of talked to who are looking and retooling their skill sets at the local community college and I’m sure they’ll be successful sooner or later (those folks should have benefits extended). There are jobs out there, people may have to move, or may have to remake themselves or maybe accept less money or do something they are uncomfortable with. I personally had 3 unsolicited job offer in the last 2 months, which I turned down and recommended someone in the “retooling” phase. (one of those jobs was a 100k yr job)
    I see both sides of this argument, there are good folks trying desperately hard to get back to work and certainly deserve these benefits, but there are just as many who are not.

    Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Permalink
  5. tenthirtytwo wrote:

    In fact, it is entirely unfair for republicans to want to extend benefits but wanting it paid for in some other way besides deficit spending. For the same reason it is entirely unfair for republicans to wanted to fix the health care system, but only after we fix the deficit, curtail spending, etc.

    The reason it is entirely unfair is, they had 6 years to fix the mess. And instead of fixing the mess, they did nothing while spending an absurd amount of money. Where were the cries to cut spending then? Why was the Medicare bill, which will cost something like 10-15 trillion dollars, OK? Where were the budget hawks? Clearly out on a limb somewhere. Seriously believing that republican votes against this unemployment bill (or virtually any other bill since 2009) have to do with spending and not with political posturing requires a level of naivete that I can’t even comprehend.

    Your anecdotal evidence is useless. There are 5 people for every job out there. Even if it were true that “there are just as many who are not” looking for a job, there are not enough jobs left over. Those people who are “heading to the local community college to retool their skillset” are likely in for a rude awakening, especially in the tech field. Some jobs are out there, but most all of them require not just an education, but experience. I know that our tech openings receive an absurd amount of resume responses.

    This reminds me of the equally absurd republican argument that illegal immigrants are stealing american jobs and that is causing damage to the economy. Yep you got it, that is the problem: that someone laid off from IBM making $120,000+ per year can’t go out and pick apples or cut some grass. Nailed it right on the head.

    I’m lucky enough to have a solid job right now, and not for one second am I stupid or arrogant enough to think that the vast numbers of unemployed out there are “riding the train” of unemployment payments. You either have no idea how much money you get from unemployment, or you and I differ greatly on what it means to “make a comfortable living”.

    Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Permalink
  6. Iron Knee wrote:

    Not to mention that the Republicans always voted to extend unemployment benefits when Bush was in power. See

    Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Permalink
  7. Jonah wrote:

    The average unemployment check is about 300 a week. Thats the same amount one would get working minimum wage for a week.

    Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Permalink
  8. patriotsgt wrote:

    OK, easy now. The point I’m trying to make is we must understand the other sides argument to effectively counter it, saying it’s “absurd” or “useless” won’t make it go away. The repubs lost the 2006 midterm so badly largely because 1. they abandoned there usual fiscal conservatism the previous 6 yrs, and 2. Bush was their leader who was unpopular with 50+% of voters.
    Scrambling back to their fiscally conservative roots serves them 2 purposes at this time. 1. reconnect with their base and 2. obstruct the presidents agenda for political gain.

    It’s not evil its just the business of politics, the left would do the same thing and did pretty much using Bush.

    Unfortunately caught in the middle are the unemployed. The far right will use my analogy to to give strength to the moderate argument. Both sides have not just drawn a line in th esand, they have built a wall. I don’t see anything else getting done before Nov, which is unfortunate for those without jobs. The Dems are politicizing as much as the Repubs and no-one wants to reach over the wall.
    Tough issues have always have 2 sides and both sides must compromise to get to the middle. They know the Repubs are grandstanding, so why don’t the Dems show the American people their great compassion and commitment to the unemployed and politicize their compromise to their benefit.
    They’d win, and the repubs would look like smucks.

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 6:37 am | Permalink
  9. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    I didn’t just call it absurd or useless, I explained why. You didn’t respond to anything I said, apart from saying repubs lost in 2006 because they abandoned fiscal conservatism. Which is complete and utter nonsense in itself (discussed below). Your painting of the unemployed in this country is just as I said: absurd and useless. Even if what you were saying was true (which it isn’t) and all those unemployed people stopped riding that gravy train and ran out to get the jobs that are just waiting for them if they weren’t so damn lazy, it would only take care of 20% of the total unemployed in this country. What do we do with the rest of them? Simple. We don’t give them any money while painting them as lazy burdens on society. Because that makes us feel better about ourselves. It lets us take the moral high ground, and feel as if we are standing on an ivory pillar while the rest of the country burns around us. In other words, the standard republican tactic for virtually everything. If we gave the unemployed money, if we taxed the rich more and the poor less, if we brought the bottom of this country up and the top of this country down…who could I, as a middle class white male, say that I’m better than? That would be a really terrifying thing for the GOP…to no longer know who they are better than. Class warfare is alive and well.

    To specifically tackle your assertion regarding the 2006 election, Medicare Part D was in 2003. The Patriot Act (probably the most egregious “big government knows best so let them take care of us”) was in 2001. Aside from these 2 specific examples, there are tons of other examples of how the republican party didn’t represent anything conservative in action, yet they consistently got re-elected. Until 2006. It can’t have had anything to do with fiscal conservatism, because fiscal conservatism was never part of the picture.

    And lets go back even further. Please tell me when the last republican president and/or congress was in office that represented true fiscal conservatism with ACTIONS and not just words. Seriously. Because I can’t think of any. Bush Sr. didn’t. Reagan didn’t. They talk about it, but spend spend spend while cutting taxes.

    The true irony of all this is that fiscal conservatism has gotten so perverted by the right wing party that it only represents idiocy. Fiscal conservatism is WISE spending, not NO spending. Rich people aren’t rich by and large because they don’t spend money. They spend money all the time. They are just intelligent about what they spend it on…they make good investments. And that is what fiscal conservatism should mean to us. Spending our money wisely. Not gutting everything we can because spending more money is bad. Why start with unemployment to reduce deficit spending? Lets start with roads. No more work on roads. People can still get around. Sure it may be harder, and sure there will be those lazy folks who will complain that they can no longer drive to work, but those people just need to take some personal responsibility and start walking or riding a bike. Just because things are hard doesn’t mean that the government needs to run in and help you out. Or maybe we can leave roads alone and stop inspecting foods. You know, let the free market work it out. If a company starts selling us terrible food, we’ll know because of the deaths. Then we won’t buy that company’s food and they’ll go out of business. The free market works! And think of how much money we’ll save not having to inspect food. Our deficit will be gone in no time.

    But we might have to raise taxes a bit, you know, because some of the existing taxpayers will be dead.

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Permalink
  10. patriotsgt wrote:

    OK Tenthirytwo,
    You asked i’ll respond. I know that you are so set in your thinking nothing anyone says let alone me will change your thoughts (it’s why we can’t have a civil conversation in this country), but here’s a reply anyway.
    For your assertion: “And lets go back even further. Please tell me when the last republican president and/or congress was in office that represented true fiscal conservatism with ACTIONS and not just words”
    When Dems lost the 94 midterm to the repubs. I know you’ll say it was Clinton only who forced a GOP congress and senate by himself to balance the budget, and create the only budget surpluses in the last 30 years that actually reduce the debt.

    Now for the last part of your reply, I agree smart spending is the key. For the record, I think we should absolutely continue the unemployment, it will cost us far more if we don’t. 34bil added to 13.2 tril is nothing. I think more of us need to move to the center, being a conservative isn’t a disease, being liberal shouldn’t either. There are Dems and Repubs because states say we have to belong to a party to vote. Many on both sides blindly vote for the party regardless of who or what the candidate stands for. When we stereotype a congressman as Conservative or Liberal we’ve already stopped listening. Complaining solves nothing, ranting and raving changes nothing, civil discourse with open ears and eyes is the only path to sanity. 50% of the country assoc. w conservative ideals, the other 50% liberal. How can 150 million people be wrong and your right? (no matter which side your on)10% of each comprise the far right and left which tends to get heard more than the middle, because mainstream media makes money on the far right and left, not the middle. I’m as sick of the far left hatred of my conservative (democratic)values as I’m sure they are of the far right whackos like rush dumbaugh bashing on Obama. Every problem in the entire world cannot be caused by conservatives.

    Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Permalink
  11. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    It was Clinton who passed OBRA in 1993. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say “Clinton did nothing and a republican controlled congress fixed everything from 1994-2000”, and then say “the economy went in the toilet in 2000 because of Bush.” What happened to all those fiscal conservatives in congress? Did they suddenly forget themselves in 2000 and onward? I know, they must have all gotten voted out and replaced with new non-fiscal conservative Republicans in 96 and 98. It is _all_ talk.

    I appreciate that you agree that smart spending is the key. I also appreciate that you’ve changed your mind, going from “On the issue of extending benefits for someone who has not found work after 2 years, I’m not sure another 6 months will make any difference in achieving that” to “I think we should absolutely continue the unemployment”.

    Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Permalink
  12. patriotsgt wrote:

    Agreed, on the repubs falling asleep at the wheel, hence the thrashing they took. From your statements I take it you also believe it takes a balance of power and both sides to work the issues. For the record, I was always in favor of extending the benefit, I didn’t change my mind, just playing devils advocate, although the stories I used were all true. There will be no easy fix for this recession. Stimulus alone will not move this economy, it’s different then the other downturns or bumps in the road that stimulus plans worked on before. This time we need the private sector to contribute and they are hesitant. They fear all the regulations coming out of DC, and the anti-business climate. They have not finished sorting out all the business changes from HCR, and now there is financial reforms 375 new regulations and 11 new agency’s. They also know cap and trade is on the horizon and the new regs and restrictions that will bring. Hopefully, they will not move more operations overseas to more business freindly countries. If you can’t tell i’m a fiscal conservative and pro-capitalism. I understand protecting the working man, but it must be balanced to allow companies and entrepreneurs the freedom to take risk, invest their own capital and reap rewards when they are successful.

    Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Permalink