Unemployment Benefits for Christmas We Pray!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year We Pray!

Democrats argue that adding the cost of the extended benefits for the unemployed to the deficit helps to stimulate the economy. Republicans say enough is enough — that it’s time for the government to stop spending money it doesn’t have.

Republicans said they would be willing to extend the federal unemployment benefit program if Democrats agree to $5 billion to $6 billion per month in spending cuts.

A lot of our citizens have never heard of “The Pig Book.”  This is a publication put out by Citizens Against Government Waste (a watchdog group) that details the horrendous ways in which our congress spends our money.  They detail who asks for money on whose behalf and where this money is spent.  A lot of the time, money is requested and given to an “anonymous” senator and cause!  It is so amazing that politicians on either side of the aisle could have a disagreement on where to fund unemployment from.  Do democrats really believe that in order for our nation to prosper we must “borrow” money to help our unemployed in this country?  Just Google the Pig Book and take a look for yourself to see the unGodly amounts of money that congress appropriates and spends not only in our country but worldwide.

Sometimes the amounts of foolishly spent money are small such as when Hillary Clinton ok’s the expenditure of only $823,000 to a university in California for Aids research. When you discover that the study is to determine how to teach Africans that are not circumcised how to wash up after sex, it becomes a cause of concern.  Why would a taxpayer in any state want his/her tax money spent on such a thing?  Can Progressives/Liberals or democrats not do the math and see how many of Americas unemployed could benefit from that money.  Then there is the $17,000,000.00 (Million) dollars that Hillary Clinton our Secretary of State spent in 09 to study and teach women in Africa how to keep from being raped while picking up firewood in the jungles of the Congo.  What is it with Hillary and sex crimes or problems in Africa?  Why do items like this trump the plight of the unemployed Americans that are going homeless and hungry on their behalf?  OMG, I feel so totally selfish!  When examples like these happen by the thousands each year, it is a major cause for concern, especially when Americans need the money but instead a select few in our political system are determined to spend money on everything but Americans.

The stimulus bill that passed last year, the almost a trillion-dollar stimulus bill, was riddled with executive branch earmarks!  Where do democrats or republicans get the nerve to even consider a vote on passing unemployment extensions when they know the money has been laying in this slush fund for a couple of years?  Millions of Americans will experience the worst Christmas season of their lives this year if this extension is not passed.  The buying of gifts for their loved ones is not the issue, but instead it’s whether they have a place to put the tree or not.  Everyone will be affected by this if congress fails to do the right thing.  Imagine the retail sales that will not happen beginning the day after Thanksgiving.  Now consider the thousands that won’t even have warmth to huddle in this winter.

Not passing this extension will be a huge shot in the foot for the republican administration that surely hopes to stay in power or pick up senate seats in 2012.  Candidates were labeled as “crazy” or “too extreme” in the past election but were elected anyway.  Now we ask you to prove to us that we weren’t wrong in voting you in.  Stop the pork and earmarks and help the citizens of America or face the scorn of a nation.  The information provided below is for your own thought process in which to draw your personal opinions as I have done.

2010 Pig Book Summary

The Congressional Pig Book is a annual compilation of the pork-barrel projects in the federal budget.  The 2010 Pig Book identified 9,129 projects at a cost of $16.5 billion in the 12 Appropriations Acts for fiscal 2010.  A “pork” project is a line-item in an appropriations bill that designates tax dollars for a specific purpose in circumvention of established budgetary procedures.

The 9,129 projects in the 2010 Congressional Pig Book represent a 10.2 percent decline from the 10,160 projects identified in fiscal year 2009, and the $16.5 billion in cost is a 15.5 percent decrease from the $19.6 billion in pork in fiscal year 2009.

The reforms that were adopted when Democrats took over Congress in 2006 can be attributed to many years of work exposing earmarks, especially the outpouring of public outrage over projects such as $50,000,000 for an indoor rainforest in Iowa and $500,000 for a teapot museum in North Carolina.

The changes include greater transparency, with the names of members of Congress first appearing next to their requested projects in 2008; letters of request that identify where and why the money will be spent; and the elimination of earmarks named after sitting members of Congress in the House.

For fiscal year 2011, House Democrats are not requesting earmarks that go to for-profit entities; House Republicans are not requesting any earmarks (although there are both exceptions and definitional questions); not surprisingly, the Senate has rejected any limits on earmarks.  None of these reforms are sufficient to eliminate all earmarks, so CAGW expects there will still be a 2011 Pig Book.

The transparency changes are far from perfect.  The fiscal year 2010 Defense Appropriations Act contained 35 anonymous projects worth $6 billion, or 59 percent of the total pork in the bill.  Out of the 9,129 projects in the 2010 Congressional Pig Book there were 9,048 requested projects worth $10 billion and 81 anonymous projects worth $6.5 billion.

The latest installment of CAGW’s 20-year exposé of pork-barrel spending includes $4,481,000 for wood utilization research,  $300,000 for Carnegie Hall in New York City, and $200,000 for the Washington National Opera in the District of Columbia.

11/30/2010 Unemployment Extension and Why New Senate Make-up Will Delay Vote

Of all the votes on unemployment extension and Tier V in 2010, it has been in the U.S. Senate where the biggest battles have taken place to get this commonsense legislation passed into law. For example, the last time the Senate dealt with this issue, it took 7 weeks to get enough votes to overcome Republican filibusters. While it is virtually certain that there will be an effort to get some form of unemployment legislation passed during the relatively short “lame duck” session set to begin on November 15, exactly what that legislation will be remains very unclear. What is probably certain is that if there are struggles to get passage of any unemployment legislation between now and the end of December, it will also occur in the U.S. Senate.

What seems to be overlooked by many is that even though the winners of the elections on November 2 will not take their seats until the U.S. Congress formally reconstitutes itself on January 3, three winners of Senatorial elections will be sworn in when the Senate resumes legislative business on November 15. The three races are:

Delaware – held an election to replace the interim Senator appointed to fill the seat left vacant when Joseph Biden assumed the Vice Presidency.

Illinois – held an election to replace the interim Senator appointed to fill the seat left vacant when Barack Obama assumed the Presidency

West Virginia – held an election to replace the interim Senator appointed to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Senator Robert Byrd.

The states have the exclusive power to determine how to fill Senate seats left vacant by death or resignation.

Some states hold “special elections” to fill a vacant seat. For example, when Senator Ted Kennedy died in Massachusetts, an interim Senator was appointed but Massachusetts held a special election to fill that seat about 4 months after the death of Senator Kennedy, and the winner, Scott Brown was elected and immediately was sworn into fill the remainder of Senator Kennedy’s term. He will have to run for relection in 2010, less than two years after he was elected. Other state laws call for the appointment of a interim Senator to complete the term of a vacant Seat and the winner of the election to fill the seat takes his or her Senate position when the term of the departed or resigned Senator would normally expire. This is the case in Florida where George LeMieux was appointed to competed the term and his replacement will assume office on January 3. The winner of the Florida race will have a full six-year term.

The third variation open to states is to appoint an interim senator to hold a seat until the next scheduled statewide election whereupon the winner immediately takes his or her seat as soon as the Senate reconvenes after the election. This is the way the legislatures of Delaware, Illinois and West Virginia have chosen to handle Senate vacancies.

Therefore the three interim Senators from those states who served in the Senate until it adjourned on September 29 will not be returning for the lame duck session. These Senators are Ted Kaufman of Delaware, Roland Burris of Illinois and Carte Goodwin of West Virginia. All of these were Democrats.

A Democrat won two of these Senate races on November 3; Christopher Coons won over Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, and Joe Manchin won in West Virginia. A Republican, Mark Kirk of Illinois, however won the third. All of these winners will be sworn soon after the Senate reconvenes for legislative business on November 15. The winners of all these seats will have to go back to the voters in 2014 not the full six years for normal Senate seats.

So, in summary there will be one less Democratic Senator in the Senate when they meet for the lame duck session than before they adjourned. (Please note that I am only referring to the brief lame duck session that will occur between November 15 and the end of the year; after January there will be 6 fewer Democratic Senators)

Now, while the loss of this one seat may seam inconsequential to many it will have a enormous impact on the efforts to push legislation – including any unemployment legislation – through the Senate.  If the Democrats offer any bill on any aspect of unemployment insurance that is not fully paid for in the sense that there are no matching offsets in other Federal spending, it is virtually certain that the Republicans will launch a filibuster. It takes 60 Senators to vote for “cloture” which is the term for a vote to stop a fillbuster and let a vote on a bill happen.

With respect to unemployment insurance, Democratic Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska has always voted against any bill that did not have offsets, and it is more than likely he will do so again.  In the past, the Democratic leadership had to convince two Republican Senators to join with them to break filibusters on unemployment insurance legislation.  Many readers will remember the effort in July to get those two Senators, a struggle that took 7 weeks.

This time, if the Democratic leadership presents any unemployment legislation that will not be offset with reductions in other areas of Federal spending, it will, without doubt be filibustered by the Republican minority and this time it will take 3 Republican Senators to join the Democrats.  It is probable that even the two Republican Senators who voted for unemployment insurance previously (Collins and Snowe of Maine) will be under significant pressure not to break ranks with their Republican colleagues and most careful observers of the Senate are hard pressed to identify any one Republican Senator that will join Senators Collins and Snowe even if they did continue their support for federal unemployment extensions or perhaps a Tier V.

Many observers – especially those who are wondering if their unemployment extensions will be cut off after November 30 or those desperately in need of a Tier V will no doubt be frustrated when they learn that the Senate will not immediately take up unemployment insurance upon their return.  Of course this is frustrating and even a cause for anger, but people should be reminded that the goal is not having a vote; the goal is having a vote that will get the necessary support for passage.

Thus the results of the elections in Delaware, Illinois and West Virginia had the effect of putting planning of legislation on hold until the results were known.  It may be only one Senator, but that one loss to the Democrats in the Senate during the lame duck has enormous import.

If as appears increasingly likely, there will be a unbreakable fillbuster presented by the Republicans for any unemployment legislation that is not paid for then the answer is obvious; present a bill for federal extensions of unemployment insurance and a Tier V that is full paid for by offsets.  This really is not as easy as it sounds. Although there has been no costing of any such legislation buy the Congressional Budget Office, most informal estimates put the cost of extension of the existing tiers for five more months and adding a Tier V may well approach $100 billion.  Finding that money will not be an easy task, especially since a reduction in one program may be opposed by a Senator. More than likely Senatorial staff are looking at how this could be done, and this will take time.

Thus, the loss of one Senate seat for the lame duck will have a lot more of an impact than many people may first think. And it is because of this – and the implications which will require a completely different way of funding unemployment extension and a potential Tier V – that will probably be the reason that this pressing issue will not be taken up until the U.S. Congress returns after Thanksgiving on November 29.

Good luck Congress – We pray you do the right thing for Americans!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Brian Gray

3 comments

  • WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2010

    The day after the midterm elections, the Federal Reserve announced that it would begin a second round of quantitative easing: “the Committee intends to purchase a further $600 billion of longer-term Treasury securities by the end of the second quarter of 2011, a pace of about $75 billion per month.” Quantitative easing is a term that was recently created to replace the more familiar term printing money. Because the historical record of printing money is so grim, that term developed a negative connotation. Of course, printing money was coined specifically to replace the older jargon debasing the currency for largely the same reason. All three mean the same thing: the government is going to create money to pay its obligations and, in so doing, your money is going to become less valuable. China doesn’t like this. Germany doesn’t like it which is important because they’re the ones responsible for making the term printing money so unfashionable. Brazil, Thailand, and South Korea are also opposed. In a different context, President Obama has said: “at a certain point, you’ve made enough money.” In the context of this second round of quantitative easing, I want to know have we reached that point?

    Amazingly enough, Obama and the Fed can justify printing $75 billion per month but can’t find the $100 billion necessary to extend the unemployment benefits to millions of Americans in need!

  • Amazing write up, saved your site with hopes to read more!

  • Great story, saved your site in hopes to read more information!

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