Over the past few months, Congressional Republicans and skittish Democrats who've lingered too long at the Deficit Panic Kool-Aid Stand have made life extraordinarily difficult for the most vulnerable members of society -- the nation's unemployed.
Rather than extend unemployment benefits so that the millions of Americans who are out there busting their humps to find the needle-in-a-haystack that is a job of any kind, they've demanded that those benefits be offset, essentially punishing the unemployed for the deficits they giddily ran up for years.
It's been pretty embarrassing to watch, frankly. But at least no one's out there running on an actual platform of kicking those who have managed to secure employment out of work, right?
Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes said Thursday he would lay off as many as 4,000 state employees if elected and force a showdown with the federal government over drilling for gas and oil.
Dan Maes told the Denver Petroleum Club he would cut at least 2,000 workers "just like that" from the state budget, with projected savings of $200 million.
Oh, hey, I stand corrected. Colorado gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes, not satisfied with eliminating the scourge of internationalist bicycle enthusiasts, has made "I will kick you or someone you love out of their job during this massive unemployment crisis" a campaign promise.
You wouldn't think that this would be a successful campaign strategy in 2010. But Maes simply represents the extreme edge of a new vanguard in GOP electioneering -- declaring war on the employed.
Take Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), for example. This week, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that the "House will reconvene next week to vote on a state aid package designed to, among other things, save up to 140,000 teachers' jobs". Bachmann decried the move, calling it a "bailout," and vowed to "call 1,000,000 households" to complain about this -- a promise that I don't think she'll keep, seeing how she'll likely end up talking to thousands of people who won't respond well to the idea that they need to lose their livelihoods to cover the asses of their public servants.
Of course, Bachmann is still out there in the wilds of political Narnia. How does a similar stance from House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) grab you?
The American people don't want more Washington 'stimulus' spending - especially in the form of a pay-off to union bosses and liberal special interests. This stunning display of tone-deafness comes at the expense of American workers, who will be hit by another job-killing tax hike because Washington Democrats can't kick their addiction to more government 'stimulus' spending. Democrats should be listening to their constituents - who are asking 'where are the jobs?' - instead of scampering back to Washington to push through more special interest bailouts and job-killing tax hikes.
As Pat Garofalo points out, Boehner is bizarrely referring to "teachers, firefighters, and police officers" as "special interests." Mainly, those folks are "specially interested" in helping people's kids get an education and marketable skills, keeping their fellow citizens free from harm, and preventing houses and businesses from burning to the ground.
Both Boehner and Bachmann believe that this aid package would cost taxpayers "$26 billion we don't have," but did anyone tell them that the bill "actually reduces the deficit by $1.3 billion dollars", or are they just lying to people?
Still, when it comes to exacerbating the unemployment crisis, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) leads the field. He's picked this moment to call for massive cuts to the federal workforce:
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced legislation today aimed at cutting the bloated federal government down to size. The Reduce and Cap the Federal Workforce Act
would reduce and limit the number of civilian federal workers to February 2009 levels.
"If we are to get our deficit under control, we need to rein in the runaway growth of our federal government," Hatch said. "Simply put, the federal government is growing at breakneck speed and it is time to apply the brakes before it bankrupts the nation and the taxpayers. My bill is a commonsense approach to putting a halt to big government."
Hatch said the numbers show why his legislation is needed. From 1981 through 2008, the senator noted, civilian workers numbered between 1.1 million and 1.2 million. The Obama administration is forecasting the government's workforce this year will reach 2.15 million and serve 310 million Americans.
How idiotic is the timing here? Well, let's look at today's job numbers:
Private employers added just 1,420 jobs per state in July -- not nearly enough to make up for job losses in the government, 50,000 of which were local-government layoffs. Unemployment remains high, at 9.5 percent, and many economists expect it to track higher in the fall.
Where are the people who would lose their jobs to go, exactly, other than off into the woods to die?
Obviously, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with reducing a bloated government workforce, but to call for a scythe to be indiscriminately swung in the direction of people who are fortunate enough to have work at a time when there are already five job seekers for every single job opening is just breathlessly inane.
But here's an idea: why don't we start the culling by eliminating every single staff position serving the United States Senate? It can't possibly require that many people to be so useless.
[Elyse Siegel contributed to this report]
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