[mccookgazette.com] A Few Clouds ~ 55°F  
High: 70°F ~ Low: 45°F
Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Unemployment extension should have been paid for

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

With our national debt at $13.2 trillion and climbing, the Senate last week inflated that number even further by refusing to pay for an extension of unemployment benefits. I voted against the bill because I will not contribute further to the runaway train of federal spending that has been tearing through Washington. Let me be clear: I know people are out of work, and I don't know a single Senator in Washington who didn't want to see these benefits extended. But unless we get serious about reining in our spending, our short-term unemployment problem will be just a fraction of a long-term financial nightmare.

Here's the big picture: the federal government has a $3.6 trillion budget, and the bill that just passed cost $34 billion -- an amount easily paid for from within the massive budget. We tried three times in the Senate -- three proposals, three votes -- to cover the cost of the unemployment extension by eliminating some unobligated funds within the current budget. All three votes failed. Each year our country spends more than it earns by more than $1 trillion, our entitlement programs continue to expand, and yet the Senate is unwilling to reduce spending in order to fund these employment benefits.

Proponents of an unfunded unemployment extension have tried painting opposition to this bill in a negative light. This misses the mark -- it fails to recognize our multiple attempts to pass these benefits, but pay for them. Nothing would have changed; beneficiaries would have seen identical benefits. The only difference: one would have had absolutely no impact on our national debt, while the other deducts $34 billion from our already overdrawn and nearly bankrupt federal checking account. Yet once again, a majority of the Senate decided that finding the money to pay for the bill was simply too difficult.

The unfunded bill will be beneficial for many in the short term, but in the long term it simply makes our debt problem that much worse. We currently run an annual deficit of $1.4 trillion, with no plan to start spending less than we have. And perhaps the thing most disappointing to me is that votes such as this, which should not be partisan, end up being split along party lines. Virtually everyone in the Senate supports extending benefits for those who have been laid off in a tough economy; and everyone recognizes the need to rein in the debt. Yet when the opportunity for action arose to actually pay for these benefits, the Senate split almost along party lines.

Because the majority of the Senate was unwilling to find the $34 billion, we've passed on another tough decision to future generations. At some point, our children or grandchildren will be left with the consequences of our lack of action. They'll have to tackle an even larger national debt. When they look back to this Congress and its refusal to pay for a record amount of spending, will they be thankful? I doubt it.

Fact Check
See inaccurate information in this story?

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on mccookgazette.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

Another Republican telling us how everything should be paid for when it comes to the unemployed yet they also say the Bush tax cuts which account for 40-50% of the national debt should be made permanent. Hypocrisy much sir?

Notice how he also fails to mention the actual cost long term for these benefits to help families get through these tough economic times. The percentage on the national debt is less than half a percent. Now compare that to the tax cuts they want to make permanent. Yep, helping struggling families is not as important as making sure their rich friends get richer.

Also when asked how they will cut spending they have no answers, no specifics, no clue. Empty words from a hollow worthless party.

-- Posted by MAD in NJ on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 11:50 AM

I was actually going to point out those facts, along with a few extra points... That lovely 7.5 Billion dollars we just gave to Pakistan, lol and now were finding out Pakistan is actually behind closed doors with the Taliban hence aiding the enemy. That money should come right back, its a absolute slap in any Vets face if we don't.

Course this same criminal also has no issue spending almost 700 Billion in tax cuts for the richest people, again hence the government will help the rich and spit on the middle and lower class. Again, not paid for but it's ok because it's their rich buddies who also put millions into their pockets for voting things their way.

Now lets not forget the lovely 10 Billion we spend on 2 wars we should have never got into.. Iraq was to get oil, and Afghanistan has diamonds and other rich minerals..

These people dont care one bit for the average American, they think they are better than us..When will people wake up and realize what this country is becoming and do something.. The way it was meant to be, the government fears the people so things stay in order. Or how it is now, the people are afraid of the government, causing this once great country to be torn apart.. These people will not stop untill the great USA is no more.. New World Order people, wake up b4 its too late..

-- Posted by Vincent1974 on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 12:26 PM

Neither one of you has any idea what you are talking about. The problem with this country is that so many people don't actually know what is going on...like you two.

It's impossible that the Bush tax cuts accounted for that much money. You don't even know how money works if that's what you think. And 10 billion for two wars? Try about 1 trillion...that's a few more than 10 billion.

It will be a long time before this country gets its finances in line with people like you that haven't got a clue where money comes from, who pays taxes, what creates an honest to God job, and how government actually spends money.

I would recommend you both do some research on these topics before you post such crap.

Don't even get me started that when Bush took office there was a 3.5 trillion dollar debt, when he left it was at 7.5 trillion...over 8 years.

Now we have Obama, Reid, and Pelosi that love their slush funds and spending $605,000 in 9 months on bottled water for themselves on our dime, they have run up the debt to 14.7 trillion dollars...in 2 years.

I bet you two can figure out them math from here.

What about that gigantic campaign promise Obama made about not raising taxes on families making less than $250,000, yet thats all they're doing.

Stupid me, but even though someone has 50 million in their estate, I don't need my hands on that unless they spend it on my business. Why should Obama get his filthy hands on 55% of it if someone dies? What did he do to earn it. Why does the federal government own everyone?

How long before Obama want's half og my measly estate my family will need to survive if I pass away?

Think about principles before you engage in class warfare!

-- Posted by Justin76 on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 1:21 PM

Hold on there, Justin76. I'd say you yourself have a lot to learn here. The arguments you present are pretty much full of holes.

The Bush tax cuts are estimated to cost between $600B and $700B over TEN YEARS. So that's about 60-70 billion $$ a year each and every year.

Unemployment benefits just passed coast $35B and they are TEMPORARY. Not 10 years or permanent as the GOP wants them to be.

The cost for war right now is between $150-$200B per year. Of course, you want to blame Obama while it is deadly clear that Bush started both wars. Not only did he start them but he then did almost nothing in Afghanistan as soon as he invaded Iraq. He drained Afghanistan of resources to fight in Iraq. That was years of neglect by Bush and his war of choice in Iraq.

And then you have the NERVE to blame Obama for having to bail out the banks and spend on stimulus to get the economy going again?! Maybe if you read something close to non-rightwing news you might realize that it was BUSH who gave us the financial crisis. It was BUSH who drove the economy into the crapper.

Obama spent money because that's what economies do when a recession hit. That's what Europe, China, India, and every other industrialized country had to do. Oh, but you want to blame Obama? Hypocritical to the extreme.

I don't know where you get your figures on taxes but the tax burden on Americans this past year has been at an historic low. If you're trying to say that all those who make over $250K are small businesses, again you're wrong. About 25% are small business and there are many different tax breaks that Obama has pushed through to make tax burdens easier on small biz.

In other words, your accusation "What about that gigantic campaign promise Obama made about not raising taxes on families making less than $250,000, yet thats all they're doing." is total hogwash. Not even close to being true. What have you been drinking (or smoking)?

As for your remarks about the estate tax the whole idea was that the person who accumulated the wealth was given that opportunity by the United States of America, its institutions and years of history and sacrifice for its principles. The tax was also, for some, considered a way to keep the wealth from accumulating in the hands of the very few and passed from generation to generation.

Tell me this, Justin76, what did the heirs to the estate do to earn the inheritance?

You also didn't mention that there is no estate tax in 2010 and in 2011 there is an immediate exclusion of $1,000,000 that can be taxed. So if you leave $3M only $2M will be taxed.

By the way, the money doesn't go to Obama and the tax laws don't come from Obama.

-- Posted by DesertWolf on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 4:00 PM

Desertwolf, thanks so much. You saved me a lot of typing. I couldn't have said it better.

-- Posted by diannah95 on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 4:11 PM

your all wrong the real problem is we are back to the tipping point that happened in 1929. what we have here is less than 1% of our population controlling over 90% of the cash, debt is crushing the regular people . i will say one thing the two wars and the tax cuts are destroying this economy tax cuts or trickle down doesn't create jobs and the rich aren't buying things. one of the things the repukes say is these tax cuts create jobs = crap and the demorats playing good cop to the bad cop repukes while they both kiss corporate butt oh and by the way sarah palin lovers 83 iq no bull it's official

-- Posted by chaz4224 on Wed, Jul 28, 2010, at 8:25 AM

First of all it seems that we have strayed from the original article, but I like where this is going so I'm not complaining.

I think that we are all spending a little too much effort on pegging blame on these politicians. While they haven't necessarily made the situation better, let us not forget that this recession was brought upon us by big banks selling off CDO's that were not backed by any sort of protection. It was the greed of the top 10 commercial and the top investment/financial banks and stock investors that truly hurt this economy.

This greed was really set in motion in 1999-00, when the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed by congress. This act was the separation of commercial and investment banks, and once it was removed it allowed commercial banks to enter into investment banking, allowing them to sell off their bad mortgages in order to ensure that they would not be stuck with a bunch of defaulted loans.

The way that they did this was actually rather clever, for as bad as it was. They took a group of CCC rated mortgages and combined them into groups, thereby reducing the default risk. This, then, rated these groups in the B's and A's as far as default-risk rating, however, they overlooked the fact that if all mortgages defaulted, then the Mortgage Backed Securties (MBS's) which are a form of Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDO's) would themselves default.

To make matters worse, these banks were giving out "phantom loans," loans that required little more than a name in order to qualify for a loan. This prevented banks and investment firms from tracking down any of the families/people who took out the loans, eliminating the chance of forced repayment, liens or the like.

Now, I will give you the fact that Bush's Medicare D plan, and his tax-cuts and some of Obama's spending for the stimulus (namely the bailout of Goldman who was almost as bad off as Lehman, but that's another topic) are not improving our economic positioning. But, I think it would behoove you to remember that the banks had a big impact on our current recession, and that some "stimulus" packages aren't the end all, be all, that will get us out of this mess.

There are many things that will continue to drag down this economy, one of which is the Debt-GDP ratio, as Greg Mankiw points out in one of his blog posts, the current percentage of debt-GDP is 63% , this is expected to rise to 90% by 2020. This will only be worsened by Social Security payments. SS will drain our GDP indefinitely. Social Security, as of estimates provided in 2008's I.O.U.S.A. will be totally drained by 2035, at which point SS payments will top $2.5 trillion per year. This puts a great deal of strain on my generation, (I'm 23), and future generations, who not only have the daunting task of trying to pay for SS, but then have to work to pay our way out of SS debt, once it has been eliminated, all while knowing that SS will be of no benefit to myself or my generation.

So, if you'd like to play the blame game, don't just look at the most recent administrations, while SS was/debatably is a good concept, there was no way FDR, and his political advisors, could have fathomed that SS would become such an issue for future generations. We need to look at the economy as a whole, not just recent political goings-ons.

So might I suggest taking less of a political standpoint on the current economy, and step back and look at it as bipartisan economists.

These problems have been growing for 50+ years, and all of a sudden everybody wants to blame Bush or Obama. These problems are bigger than them, much bigger.

-- Posted by pencegc on Wed, Jul 28, 2010, at 10:30 AM

Here are the real silver bullets. In 8 years, 2000 to 2008 / The republicans slashed taxes for the wealthy / Tried to privatize social security / Pushed us into two wars / Cost our country 8 million jobs and created no net jobs / They inherited a Federal budget with surpluses. How could President Obama fix this, a broken car on the side of the road. At least in the short time he has been in office he has it running and chugging down the road again. By doing what they could the democrats stopped the financial crisis from turning into a depression. Don't give the republicans another chance to destroy the advancements we have made. I myself have voted for republicans and democrats in the past. Hoping it was for the right person. But after what I have witnessed going on with the party of "NO" I WILL NEVER VOTE FOR A REPUBLICAN AGAIN. I was in the Jaycees for 20 years and have a life time membership as a United States Jaycee Ambassador #2361. Many times I didn't agree with the president on issues but I didn't try to curb his or her administration.

-- Posted by rostraw on Wed, Jul 28, 2010, at 11:12 AM

Why now, with two very expensive wars, an economic depression, and a record deficit, would anyone think about ending the estate tax? Do the richest Americans really need yet another break? Our nation is on the precipice of a grave fiscal decline, yet some politicians want to lower an estate tax that only applies to millionaires -- less than one percent of all estates. The estate tax raises tens of billions of dollars in revenue every year from those Americans who benefit the most from the prosperity and opportunity this nation represents.

The wealthy provide much for our economy, but lowering or repealing the estate tax in order to shift their fair share of our national burden onto the middle class is entirely irresponsible. Nobody should be loosening their belt when our national debt is in the tens of trillions, particularly not people whose fortunes provide them lifetimes of financial comfort.

United for a Fair Economy is an organization that shares my views. They demand a strong estate tax for the benefit of all Americans. Check them out at http://www.faireconomy.org/estatetax/

-- Posted by etaxfan on Wed, Jul 28, 2010, at 11:13 AM

I like the way this is going...Repugnican'ts are trying to defend an indefensible position and getting their arses handed to them at every turn...it's priceless.

The one point I'd like to add is...this whole meltdown started during Reagun's term when he(among other atrocities) appointed Alan Greenspan to run the FED (group of private bankers referred to as the "Central Bank"). His devotion to the "insane" economist Ahn Rand became the FED's mantra..."neither regulate, investigate or prosecute anything in the financial markets as they will fix themselves". NOW after you stop laughing at that "mistake" he made for 30 years...think about what that gave the crooks at the Banks, Wall Street and all the other trading companies the ability to do.

They "gambled" with other peoples money and then issued "derivatives"(Insurance policies) to cover their shady deals...when those got "called" they were up the proverbial creek without the cash to buy their way back.

-- Posted by HarleyBUD on Wed, Jul 28, 2010, at 4:18 PM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration:

Sen. Mike Johanns
Sen. Mike Johanns
U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns is a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Nebraska governor and Lincoln mayor.

Address: 404 Russell, Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

Phone: (202) 224-4224
Fax: (202) 228-0436

You may contact Senator Johanns by emailing mike_johanns@johanns.senate.gov. If you would like to receive a response from Senator Johanns, please ensure you include your name, full address, and phone number.