The nation's 1.3 million long-term unemployed have now had to go two weeks without extended unemployment benefits. They're in dire straits, struggling to make ends meet, buy gas for their cars and stretch their last box of macaroni and cheese to three meals. Congress must pass the unemployment emergency extension bill now.
However, both parties are about as motivated as Homer Simpson doing his weekend chores. House Speaker John Boehner and his gang refuse to consider a House bill, and a Senate version is in the deep freeze. Republicans are committed to a culture of economic sabotage and obstruction, and Democrats as a whole haven't been more vocal about getting action. In particular, President Obama, could more effectively use the bully pulpit to pressure Republicans to support the measure.
The sad part of this situation is that we're not talking about a lot of money. A three-month extension will cost $6 billion and a 12-month extension $26 billion. Those are drops in the bucket compared to the amount of money wasted on ineffective government programs, redundant defense projects, $350 billion in uncollected taxes and millions wasted on fixing the disaster known as Healthcare.gov – not to mention, doling out $80 billion in corporate welfare to the oil industry.
The 113th Congress is the most ineffective and uncompassionate in years. Its members have zero understanding about what it's like for the long-term unemployed to live day-to-day, and their loyalty to special interests is overruling their responsiveness to public opinion. The fact that a majority of the public supports an extension has no meaning when a pack of economic saboteurs like Heritage Action and Club for Growth threaten to pull their campaign donations.
Perhaps the best course of action is for the citizens to flood their representatives' offices with phone calls. But don't be surprised if Ernestine, the insensitive, nosy telephone operator, answers the phone.