So much for the whole “jobs, jobs, jobs” slogan Republicans love to push. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar scheduled a Joint Economic Committee hearing on long-term unemployment yesterday morning, and only 3 other members of the Joint Economic Committee bothered to show up–with not a single Republican in sight. The committee consists of 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans, so the absence of concern was a bipartisan effort in this case, as it has been all too often when it comes to our nation’s long-term unemployed.
Now I understand that congressional schedules can be hectic, and often times there are multiple activities scheduled around the same time. It’s impossible to be in two places at once–I get that. But you’re telling me that every one of the 10 Republicans on this committee had something more important scheduled for 10:30 AM yesterday morning? What was it, another hearing on repealing Obamacare? Because that’s the magical cure-all for everything, right?
The fact is long-term unemployment is one of the most devastating issues facing this country today, and we’ve done far too little to address the problem. We abandoned our nation’s 99ers in favor of extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich back in 2010. Currently, almost 40% of our nation’s 11.7 million unemployed have been unemployed for 6 months or more, and this doesn’t count the people who have given up searching for work. The unemployment rate has slowly gone down over the past few years, but make no mistake about it–this is still a severe problem which continues to leave families in financial ruin and despair.
So is this the level we’ve fallen to? Scheduling hearings on an issue this important, and only 20% of the committee members bother showing up. This is yet another example of what’s wrong with Congress, but sadly we continue to do nothing to change it. Despite the fact that Congress continues to have a lower approval rating than pocket lint, they’ve been emboldened by a sense that they won’t be voted out regardless of what they do to deserve it. Sure, there is the occasional turnover of a batcrap crazy representative here or there (Allen West comes to mind), but for every one voted out there are 5-10 others who continue to be reelected. People like Michele Bachmann, who can seemingly say things that would get your average citizen thrown in a mental institution, but still manage to get voted back in and placed on important committees making decisions that affect us all.
Or people like Joint Economic Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, representing Texas’ 8th congressional district. He’s been in office since 1997 thanks to a safely conservative district full of constituents who obviously don’t care that he can’t do his job. I wonder what his excuse was for completely skipping the hearing yesterday? His public schedule doesn’t mention yesterday specifically, but does list extremely important things such as speaking at “Grover Norquist’s ATR Wednesday Morning Meeting.” Because talking about how the wealthy are overtaxed is so much more important than talking about jobs for the long-term unemployed, right?
But remember, this is the same party that has fed us the load of garbage known as trickle-down economics for the past 30 years, insisting that if we just give the wealthy more tax breaks everything else will do a happy dance and fall into place. So it should come as no surprise they don’t give a damn about the unemployed–the only “solution” they’ve ever had for jobs is lower taxes. No jobs bills, no real ideas. Oh, you scheduled a hearing about long-term unemployment Senator Klobuchar? Sorry, we can’t make it. Just lower taxes for the wealthy some more and those poor jobless people will instantly be rewarded with gifts and jobs from grateful millionaires.
For the record, the only attendees aside from Senator Klobuchar at the hearing were Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, Maryland Representative John Delaney and Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings. If you’d like to give the other 16 committee members a piece of your mind, you can find their websites and contact info here (for House committee members) and here (for Senate committee members).
Do me a favor… The next time you hear a Republican talking about “jobs, jobs, jobs” and pretending like they care about the unemployed, give them a reality check. The proof is in their actions, not their words.
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