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Down But Not Out
December 22, 2011 12:07 PM   Subscribe

With the recent news that unemployment applications are at their lowest levels since 2008, Congressional Republicans are attempting to curtail unemployment benefits. Democrats want to extend benefits for another year. This has led to an impasse.

Still, there are many long term unemployed who will slip into poverty without an extension of these benefits. The uncertainty has left many of these people fearful and angry.

Economists are also arguing that the current extensions of unemployment benefits helped prevent the economy from sinking into a depression. Additionally, only 22% of long term unemployed are currently receiving any unemployment benefit.
posted by reenum (64 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
What number impasse is this? I was playing along at home and just couldn't keep up.
posted by tommasz at 12:12 PM on December 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


Vote Republican and this sort of senseless ideology and brinkmanship will only get worse.
posted by Sparkticus at 12:20 PM on December 22, 2011 [12 favorites]


Whatever number will bear the maximum similarity to the number of casualties at the Battle of Falkirk.
posted by blucevalo at 12:20 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because if more people are eating, it's time to close the shop.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:20 PM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


They should take all that fear and anger, and use it to get off their asses on election day and vote for someone, anyone who is not a Republican. Doesn't necessarily have to be Obama. But they should see it's the Republicans who are the entire cause of this impasse. That fact should be trumped loud and long. I want to go out and carry a sign on a street corner: "HEY! THE REPUBLICANS ARE WHY THINGS SUCK RIGHT NOW!"
posted by JHarris at 12:20 PM on December 22, 2011 [16 favorites]


I'd like to carry the same sign excoriating Democrats. What street will you be on? Maybe we can get lunch.
posted by red clover at 12:23 PM on December 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Surely America's problems are the fault of one of their two parties, and not systemic.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:24 PM on December 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


Democrats are fighting for tax cuts which weaken Social Security.

Democrats are fighting for tax cuts which weaken Social Security.

Democrats are fighting for tax cuts which weaken Social Security.

This is winning the battle and loosing the war.
posted by three blind mice at 12:25 PM on December 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


tommasz, the unemployment benefits are tied to a package that also extends the payroll tax cut. Boehner wants the cut to be extended for at least a year, but the bipartisan measure only extends the cut by two months.

Much of the debate over this issue has been wrapped up in the payroll tax. There are two reasons for this: (1) it's easier to extend jobless benefits, something Republicans Don't Like, by doing it as part of a larger package that Republicans Do Like, and (2) when the bill fails, the focus is much more on the payroll tax part of it than on the unemployment part.

I haven't read anything on this that suggests Republicans are using the unemployment benefits to stall the payroll tax package. To the contrary, they probably don't want to draw too much attention to those benefits possibly expiring with an election year on the horizon.

All of this has resulted in the debate taking a meaningless shape -- do we extend the payroll tax cut by two months or a year? -- and putting the unemployment benefits in the backseat as if to say, "We'll maybe get to that if we can agree on this other stuff first."
posted by brina at 12:27 PM on December 22, 2011


"I'd like to carry the same sign excoriating Democrats. What street will you be on? Maybe we can get lunch."

Except… Democrats aren't the reason why things suck. Democrats have managed to lessen the impact of the Great Recession, which was caused by… Republican policies under Bush. However, Republicans have gone even further to the right under the auspices of the Tea Party, and are refusing to extend a tax cut that promotes spending while still arguing for more tax cuts for the upper class.

So comparing the two is either naive or willfully disingenuous. Which is it?
posted by klangklangston at 12:29 PM on December 22, 2011 [34 favorites]


Three blind mice, that's not at all true. I don't know the details on the extension deal, but in the original payroll tax cut bill any losses to the SS trust fund are being repaid from general funds.
posted by introp at 12:29 PM on December 22, 2011


"Democrats are fighting for tax cuts which weaken Social Security."

That's nonsense no matter how many times you copy pasta it.

These tax cuts don't affect Social Security at all — the payments are made up to the trust out of the general fund.
posted by klangklangston at 12:30 PM on December 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Boehner, Cantor and the other House Republican nutjobs could give two shits about the payroll tax or the unemployment benefits - they want to salvage all their poison pill addons in the original bill.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:31 PM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Democrats are fighting for tax cuts which weaken Social Security.

Ooh, is this the thread where we bring up idiotic non-sequiturs and repeat them a bunch of times and pretend like we're making a cogent point? I've been waiting all year for one of these!

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was only slightly worse than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was only slightly worse than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was only slightly worse than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

This is winning the battle and loosing the war.
posted by Mayor West at 12:34 PM on December 22, 2011 [13 favorites]


Not only is it terrible optics for the Republicans, but it's a position which is becoming increasingly untenable for Republican representatives in swingy districts. I think we'll see a lot more of this, since this isn't the hill on which too many House members want to die.
posted by Bromius at 12:35 PM on December 22, 2011


Eventually, everyone will be unemployed and then new claims will stop. Victory!!!
posted by Thorzdad at 12:35 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Boehner’s office cuts off C-SPAN cameras as GOP takes verbal beating - Are we at the point where that can be considered nuts still or is that sort of thing just the new normal?
posted by Artw at 12:36 PM on December 22, 2011 [18 favorites]


People need to stop referring to "extending payroll tax cut", and use the Republicans own language -- "Republicans are trying to increase taxes on the middle class via payroll taxes". You can't let them define the language on both ends of the spectrum.
posted by inigo2 at 12:42 PM on December 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


Democrats aren't the reason why things suck.

That ship sailed years ago.
posted by swift at 12:45 PM on December 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


You can't let them define the language on both ends of the spectrum.

People need to make the effort all over the place because we lost the language of the debate quite a long time ago.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:46 PM on December 22, 2011


I thought Republicans liked cutting taxes? Is this Opposite Year?
posted by desjardins at 12:47 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm glad global media allows us all to watch this and wonder where the ghost of Christmas past is hiding out
posted by infini at 12:47 PM on December 22, 2011


I thought Republicans liked cutting taxes? Is this Opposite Year?

They only like cutting taxes for people they like, it seems.
posted by Artw at 12:50 PM on December 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


These tax cuts don't affect Social Security at all — the payments are made up to the trust out of the general fund.

So instead of the government having to pay for it ... the government has to pay for it.

Was Enron really so long ago?
posted by esquire at 12:53 PM on December 22, 2011


"So instead of the government having to pay for it ... the government has to pay for it.

Was Enron really so long ago?
"

I can't tell if you're really being dense or if you're just trying to be witty and failing.
posted by klangklangston at 12:56 PM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was only slightly worse than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

I like to imagine that the monkeys who were swinging Tarzan-style with Shia are the same ones whose brains were eating right out of their skulls at the beginning of Temple.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:56 PM on December 22, 2011


...only slightly worse?!
posted by red clover at 12:58 PM on December 22, 2011


But if applications are down, what's the problem with extensions?

2010: 10 people need benefits.
2011: 5 people need benefits longer...

Win-win.
posted by CarlRossi at 1:11 PM on December 22, 2011


The Fridge Scene is entirely consistent with Indy as we know him. As is a plot involving Von Daniken style ancient aliens. CGI, on the other hand, is not.
posted by Artw at 1:14 PM on December 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Unemployment is down because of temporary retail jobs that will go away in a week, and people that decided to quit looking during the holidays because it was too damn depressing. If you take a week off from job hunting, you are not unemployed that week according to the Govt. Watch the rate spike back up in Jan and Feb.
posted by COD at 1:30 PM on December 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


It is true that Republicans hate tax increases as much as they love financing wars with Chinese money, but they hate Obama more than they love tax cuts. Thus, their position is not contradictory.
posted by wintermind at 1:36 PM on December 22, 2011


Unemployment is down because of temporary retail jobs that will go away in a week, and people that decided to quit looking during the holidays because it was too damn depressing. If you take a week off from job hunting, you are not unemployed that week according to the Govt. Watch the rate spike back up in Jan and Feb.

No no no, COD! Shhhhhh!

This is a real sign of progress and it means that all businesses should immediately begin expanding, taking out loans, hiring new employees, launching new products, and growing the economy. You gotta have faith, man!

Come on. Stop with the nuance and skepticism already.
posted by General Tonic at 1:40 PM on December 22, 2011


If you take a week off from job hunting, you are not unemployed that week according to the Govt. Watch the rate spike back up in Jan and Feb.

According to the FPP they are counting unemployment applications, this is different than the survey they use for the unemployment rate. I'll grant you that it might be lower because of temporary holiday retail jobs but that would have been true in 2010 and 2009 and applications are as low as they have been since 2008.

I think that all this means is that we're now losing jobs at the lowest rate since 2008. It doesn't say anything about people looking for or finding new jobs.
posted by VTX at 1:42 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Impasse averted! (At least until the end of February)
posted by Bromius at 1:52 PM on December 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Spin.
posted by jabberjaw at 1:54 PM on December 22, 2011


Why was there a payroll tax cut in the first place? Just because people like tax cuts?
posted by smackfu at 2:07 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


CNN had an interesting article on this. FWIW, the republicans want a payroll tax cut, but they want it longer and on different conditions, and don't want to accept the short term compromise to sort it out. They end up looking like they are against it, which is pretty damn stupid. A pretty big misstep, even for their own supporters.

Politically, it is an interesting outcome. It seems to me they thought they could basically oppose Obama categorically and get away with it, but have discovered there are some limits. It seems they felt 9% approval was too high.
posted by Bovine Love at 2:12 PM on December 22, 2011


A lower payroll tax means that employers withhold less from the employee for remittance to the government. Since an employee's gross wages stay the same, this means that the employee takes home more net money.
posted by reenum at 2:12 PM on December 22, 2011


smackfu, there was a payroll tax cut because the best economic models we have so far (which aren't perfect, or maybe even good, but the best we have) indicate that injecting some money at the consumer level will stimulate the economy more effectively than the other options available. Which is to say: there are better ways to spend that money, but none that we can get through Congress at the moment.
posted by introp at 2:23 PM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why was there a payroll tax cut in the first place?

Obama won it last year during the Bush tax cuts debate in exchange for extending lower tax rates for the top tax brackets for another two years.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 2:27 PM on December 22, 2011


If I recall correctly last year the Dems wanted the Bush tax cuts to expire for the high earners to reduce the deficit by $700B, the R's said no new taxes, so the compromise they worked out was a tax cut/unemployment benefits package that increased the deficit by $858B
posted by TwoWordReview at 2:29 PM on December 22, 2011 [3 favorites]






I am starting to think that these "omnibus" bills are one of the more pernicious influences on our government, up there with the Citizens United fiasco. I would really like to see a new emphasis on "one subject per bill" if not an outright mandate for it. Of course, it'll never happen.
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:23 PM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


One reason the Republicans wanted more than 2 months was so they wouldn't get beaten up again over this closer to the elections. Now they can. Win-win.
posted by Mick at 3:35 PM on December 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I admit to being pleasantly surprised by the outcome of this negotiation. Once Reid sent the Senate home this was all but inevitable, but I half expected the Democrats to somehow fumble away an easy political win heading into election season. Now a lot of swing state Tea Partiers are going to have to explain why they voted against tax cuts. Their challengers need to keep the message short and simple: "Mr. X said he was going to DC to clean-up the place. Instead, he voted to raise your taxes." Short, simple, and probably unfair. But that's politics for you.
posted by wintermind at 3:54 PM on December 22, 2011


probably unfair

"What do you mean that it's complicated? It wasn't complicated when the millionaires wanted a tax break!"
posted by Artw at 3:56 PM on December 22, 2011


I would sound like a parrot for repeating that over and over again. Don't let the opposition cloud the waters. Short and simple. "Tax cuts for the rich, tax hikes for the rest of us. Business as usual in Washington."
posted by wintermind at 3:58 PM on December 22, 2011


You know, I'm beginning to believe against all hope that being stupid and evil may be acting against the Republicans here, and they might not end up winning a huge victory in 2012.

Quick! Democrats and assorted left wingers! Do something dumb to hand them the advantage!
posted by Artw at 4:01 PM on December 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


I like Temple of Doom.

I like Temple of Doom

I like Temple of Doom.
posted by vibrotronica at 4:08 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, me too, even if it is racist as hell. Still not as good as Raiders though.
posted by Artw at 4:09 PM on December 22, 2011


I'm curious why people think the Republicans will be penalized by the voters for this bit of obstructionism. I've seen tons and tons and tons of obstructionism from the Republicans when it came to the unemployed and the poor and the middle class all through 2009 and 2010, and then I watched them clean up in the midterm elections, the biggest sweep by a party in decades. At the time I also read a bunch of articles and heard various experts talk about how the Republicans will be penalized. What's different now?

I've given up trying to predict when the voters will wake up to what the Republicans represent. I was disgusted by the original GWB election, disgusted and flabbergasted by the 2004 re-election. By the time of the 2010 midterms, I completely gave up any hope the average voter out there has the brains god gave a hopping robin. As to the prognostications of various experts, one can only take that much of the "surely this" assurances before completely dismissing the whole bunch. So really, I am curious, why is the great awakening supposed to happen this time around? "Surely this"?
posted by VikingSword at 4:28 PM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


So one of the "Top Stories" on the Yahoo e-mail page is, "House Republicans cave on payroll tax cuts extension". It's funny they should use the term cave, because I'd say they realized they were in a hole and decided to stop digging.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:05 PM on December 22, 2011


I would really like to see a new emphasis on 'one subject per bill' if not an outright mandate for it. Of course, it'll never happen.

It's been tried before. "Every law, or resolution having the force of law, shall relate to but one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title." Uh, in the Confederate States Constitution.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:22 PM on December 22, 2011


Hah, I'd forgotten that the Confederate Constitution had a single-topic provision. That's probably enough to poison the idea right there. I doubt that there was any insight gained as to its effectiveness (or lack thereof) considering the short lived nature of the government, but it would be interesting to know. I can't say that I've come across any literature about the day to day functioning of the CSA legislature during my reading but I'll keep an eye out for sure. My general impression is that of chaos and ineffectiveness but since we're talking about a revolutionary government in the midst of a massive war, that's not entirely surprising.
posted by feloniousmonk at 7:35 PM on December 22, 2011


The one-topic, straightforward-title requirement is straight out of the UK parliament.
posted by miyabo at 8:54 PM on December 22, 2011


I am embarrassed not to have known that.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:02 PM on December 22, 2011


So one of the "Top Stories" on the Yahoo e-mail page is, "House Republicans cave on payroll tax cuts extension". It's funny they should use the term cave, because I'd say they realized they were in a hole and decided to stop digging.

"No no! Dig up stupid!"

posted by Talez at 10:46 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've seen tons and tons and tons of obstructionism from the Republicans when it came to the unemployed and the poor and the middle class all through 2009 and 2010, and then I watched them clean up in the midterm elections, the biggest sweep by a party in decades. At the time I also read a bunch of articles and heard various experts talk about how the Republicans will be penalized. What's different now?

I (sadly) agree with you that people will likely forget all about this by the time elections roll around. That said, this is one of the first times that the Republicans position can be very succinctly be stated as "they wanted to raise taxes on the middle class, while protecting the rich". Whether that really will stick is to be seen, but the ability to simply state it definitely helps.
posted by inigo2 at 5:10 AM on December 23, 2011


Yeah, the problem is that a vast sector of the population LIKES to see their representatives shitting on the unfortunate. The GOP leverages this by making it seem like giving unemployment insurance and welfare to people will actually allow those people to live better than them. Sort of like the old Bob Newhart joke where he started out working at the unemployment office, and said he quit because he was getting $50 a week and he had to go there every day, and the claimants were getting $40 a week and only had to go there once a week.

It's bullshit, but that's why the GOP continues to win elections.
posted by gjc at 6:21 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


feloniusmonk:

Jeff Jenkins has an article about some traits of the CDA legislature. It'a focused on parties but IIRC talks about a few other things too
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:17 AM on December 23, 2011


stupid phone keyboas
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:17 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't tell if you're really being dense or if you're just trying to be witty and failing.
posted by klangklangston at 3:56 PM on December 22 [1 favorite +] [!]


You do realize that the money in the "trust" and the general fund come from the same place, right? They both come from the taxpayers, and taxpayers are on the hook for both them. If there is some more sophisticated nuance about it that I am too dense to appreciate, please explain instead of being glib and crummy about it. Thx.
posted by esquire at 11:24 AM on December 23, 2011


Oh, I'm sorry, I missed the memo that I wasn't supposed to glibly respond to your glib comment.

And while you're right that they both come from taxpayers, that's still a pretty glib and unhelpful way to view it, especially since they have different mechanisms, and that the general income taxes are actually less regressive (applying to all wage income, rather than just the lower tiers).

But what that has to do with Enron, well, perhaps you were too dense to communicate your meaning in a one-liner. Would you care to try again?
posted by klangklangston at 11:29 AM on December 23, 2011


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