Today's passage of the $858 billion deal struck between Republicans and President Barack Obama provides vital assistance to a record number of long-term job-hunters. And we certainly needed it -- an average of about $290 a week for Americans who want to work but have been unable to find jobs for more than six months.
But the price was too high. While desperately poor families are forgoing Christmas this year--prompting children to pen "Dear Santa" letters that ask for basics like boots, coats and money for electricity bills -- Republicans fought tooth-and-nail for a gilded gift basket of income tax cuts worth $120 billion for America's super-rich, and a new estate tax exemption would let off all but America's 50 wealthiest families so their pampered children can keep more of their millions.
Let's call these the cut-and-run Republicans, who cut taxes and run from responsibilities.
It's a shame. America's families are suffering. Our dismal economy teeters on a ledge. Last month we saw the number of long-term jobless workers reach 6.3 million, a record high, and a million more than last year.
Despite record corporate profits and two trillion dollars of cash on hand, no one's hiring.
For two years, Republicans have raised alarms about the deficit, convincing some Democrats that it would be imprudent to spend money to fix our economy. Deficit hysteria gave cover to those creating legislative gridlock, stalling and reducing much-needed investments in America's infrastructure and our future, measures that would have created millions of new jobs and rebuilt our economy toward a powerful and prosperous future.
Far from being a time for the American government to pull back, this is the time to invest and rebuild. When jobs and tax receipts are increasing, America can prudently address the deficit.
Instead, we've seen Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor pull a dour face and warn like a stern parent about reckless spending.
House Speaker-to-be John Boehner is so committed to fiscal restraint, he said, that he would bring up a cost-cutting measure every week in the House. Every single week.
But the Republican Senate minority promised to block every piece of legislation, and even threatened to shut down the government, if they didn't get those tax cuts for billionaires.
What about the billions those tax cuts add to the federal deficit? The cut-and-run Republicans didn't blink an eye.
Where was McConnell's "old-fashioned discipline" that prompted the Senate's record 133 filibusters in 2010?
Where was Boehner's tirade on the House floor against saddling future generations with debt?
These Republicans have finally lost the last shred of credibility.
True fiscal conservatives from generations past wouldn't recognize these new reckless champions for the super-rich.
But we'll remember. From this vote forward, when the cut-and-run Republicans pull out the "fiscal responsibility" card to oppose bills that benefit the American people rather than America's richest individuals and families, the rest of us can tell them to take a hike.
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