Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Real Scandal In DC: No One Cares

For all the yelling and screaming we've heard about Benghazi... for all the yelling and screaming we're gonna hear about the IRS investigating Tea Party groups... the real problem in Washington DC is that no one in power really gives a crap about the long-term unemployed and even the lucky-for-now employed average Americans struggling through this austerity-cramped "recovery".

To wit, from Derek Thompson at The Atlantic:

On April 24, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar scheduled a hearing. Fun story, right? A hearing in Washington is like a fern in the rainforest. But this hearing was notable for both its subject and its attendance. It was a meeting about the most important economic crisis facing America today: long-term unemployment. At 10:30am, the hearing began. She was the only attendant...I have two stories for you about Washington and the economy. Both true. But very different.The first story is called: How Washington Saved the Economy. You might begin in 2008, when the Federal Reserve went on an unprecedented spree of asset-buying to un-gunk the banks, push down interest rates, and spur investing in mortally weakened economy. This was followed, in 2009, with an equally historic stimulus package aimed at filling holes in state budgets and sending cash back to families and businesses... There is little question that monetary and fiscal stimulus blunted the recession -- and saved the economy.The second story is called: How Washington Permanently Scarred the Labor Market. You might begin this story in 2011, when Congress (led by Republican obstructionism) embarked on a historic quest to crush deficit spending by any means necessary. Hold the economy hostage over the debt ceiling? Check. Kill the American Jobs Act while scheduling a too-awful-to-be-a-real-law sequester? Check. Allow the too-awful-to-be-a-real-law sequester to become a real law? Checkmate... The deficit fell fast. As unemployment ebbed, the ranks of long-term jobless calcified, creating two separate job markets. One broken market for people out of work for more than six months. And another slowly healing market for everybody else. But the combination of a thermostatic recovery and a deep aversion to stimulus crushed any hope that the long-term unemployed would get the help they needed. Long-term unemployment isn't special just because it's longer; it's special because it's self-perpetuating. Skills atrophy, networks dry up, and employers discriminate, creating a vicious cycle of joblessness that can't be cured by normal economic growth...

Enough to make one rage, don't it?  Pity of it is, there's no lobby group for unemployed people.  It costs money to hire a lobbying firm: unemployed people by sheer fact of no job/no money means they can't afford one.  Meanwhile, banks and anti-union business owners and rich people can afford lobbyists by the limo load, meaning they can drown out the local echo chamber to their hearts' content.  Without dedicated political activism in the place where it really matters - the halls of Congress - the unemployed are screwed.

To the seven people reading this blog: Swear upon your personal honor to find and support any and all political candidates pledged to pass a jobs stimulus bill campaigning for 2014.  Swear it!  Not to me.  Swear it to the millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans who need our help.

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