Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for August 2nd, 2011

WI Senate Passes EB Bill on Party-Line Vote; Debt Ceiling Crisis Ends

with 2 comments

Folks, I have two quick updates, though if you’ve been paying attention to US politics at all, you know full well that the debt ceiling crisis is over (for now).

First, the Wisconsin Senate passed a bill, 19-14, to agree with the Wisconsin Assembly that new claimants for unemployment will have to wait a week to receive benefits.  This passed on a party-line vote, meaning 19 Rs voted for it, while the 14 Ds voted “no” because they don’t like the idea of employers being able to lay someone off for a week, then call them back, without those employees getting paid.

Now it’s up to Gov. Scott Walker (R) to sign this bill so people can start to receive their Extended Benefits.  Many people have been out of EB since 4/16/11, and may only receive another week or two — yet any money beats no money at all, and this is something everyone who worked for an employer has paid into.**  (If you are an independent contractor and have lost your job through no fault of yours, there’s still no remedy for you.  As I am now an independent contractor, I completely understand.)

So now, we’re just waiting on Scott Walker to do his job and sign this bill.   Let’s hope he signs it soon, as there are real people hurting in Wisconsin who need this money.  (If he doesn’t sign it quickly, well, that’s just another reason to recall the man come January 2012.)

As for the whole debt ceiling issue, I am appalled by the final solution.  I know that getting something done was better than nothing at all, but the problem with the solution is that it allowed the most radical, right-wing extremists in the Republican Party to basically hold up everyone else until they got what they wanted.  These people ended up winning the argument because they refused to give in; they refused to do their jobs as politicians, trying to figure out what the “art of the possible” is and made everyone else figure out that the only possible action was to give in to these extremists even though giving in was the wrong thing to do.

My biggest problem remains this one: once you pay the Danegeld, how do you get rid of the Dane?

So we have not defaulted, but the world as a whole has been exposed to the ridiculously petty nature of our politics.  And the world, it appears, dislikes it as much as American citizens do.

Hard to see any “winners” here, including the radical, right-wing extremists, even though they obviously feel they have won.  One would hope once they go back to their states or districts and get a taste of how people are feeling, they will be rudely disabused of that notion, as according to this poll, 77% of Americans feel our elected representatives have “behaved like spoiled children.”

In my opinion, there are no winners in this process; the national debt is still there, and still really isn’t being dealt with, while the lack of revenue in this deal (or, in plain terms, raising taxes or at least allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire) doesn’t help anything, either.   Further, if there was more of a focus on jobs, promoting ways of keeping people employed in order to perhaps keep the tax cuts that the businesses and the wealthy like, maybe we wouldn’t be quite as bad off as we are right now.

It seems to me that the folks in Washington, DC, have a very narrow view of the world.  Perhaps they can’t help it; they meet up with wealthy lobbyists and wealthy business owners and mostly wealthy people day by day, right?  (In order to fund their campaigns, they need these people to help them, because it’s become too expensive to stay in Congress once you’re there without the help of very wealthy people.)

But pegging the tax cuts to the amount of people these businesses employ seems like a very good idea — that way, people would be employed, thus more tax revenue overall would be flowing into the system.  And that way, there’s an impetus for businesses that may be sitting on a lot of money (and many are; don’t kid yourself) to hire, in order to keep the tax breaks they love so much.

That, to my mind, would be a “win-win.” 


** Note: A person I respect read me the riot act over Extended Benefits.  All I know is what the folks at Unemployment told me; these are programs people have paid into, and their employers alike . . . I agree that no one ever expected people to have to stay on unemployment over a year.  Nor that we’d still have over 9% reportable unemployment in the US of A, either, which makes it much more difficult to find work.