Never has the avarice of the Republican party been more nakedly displayed than in the contemptuous disdain that Governors Haley Barbour and Bobby Jindal displayed in declaring that they will refuse to accept large portions of the unemployment package for fear that they would increase the employment tax paid by business. Usually, the GOP condemns the unemployed as shiftless, lazy slobs who simply need to get off their duff and find a job. Now that Obama is holding out the opportunity to help bail out the states and create jobs, these stone age Governors would rather condemn more workers to unemployment than run the theoretical risk, years down the road, of having taken on an increased burden in paying for unemployment benefits. The stimulus, they claim, will increase the deficit.
This isn't perverse. It's grotesque.
The stimulus will not increase the deficit. It will make it smaller. Not using the stimulus will make the deficit larger. If the unemployment rate continues to swell, imagine the costs of paying unemployment benefits to, say, 15 percent of the population. Is that what Jindal and Barbour would like?
If these Republican Governors carry through on their grandstanding, voters in their states should launch a recall effort--or contact their legislators to make it plain that the last thing they want is for their Governor to turn down the very stimulus that could help revive the sagging economy. In the past few decades, the GOP has come up with increasingly adventurous economic theories to justify slashing taxes on the wealthy, a policy that supposedly benefits everyone else, especially the poor. But now that eight years of laissez-faire has brought America to on the verge of a new Depression, who would have thought that it would actively embrace a policy that repudiates putting the unemployed back to work? The Republican party, then, is going to war again--against creating jobs.