I couldn’t sleep after reading the many reader comments on my latest post on extending unemployment benefits. If anyone believes that the long-term unemployed are not enduring painful, daily hardships, please read them. They’re mini testimonials on the damage politicians are doing by not passing the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act.
Many wrote that they’ve lost their cell phone and Internet services, making it even harder for them to look for work. Several can’t afford food, gas or their utility bills, and some fear losing their homes. Others are without health care. They have no money to afford Cobra, the health care program for those who have lost a job, or Obamacare.
I’d call on President Obama to read them, but I doubt it would make much of a difference. He’s bubble-wrapped in indolence. Republicans won’t bat an eye. They lack the empathy gene, and are loyal to Heritage Action for America, one of the more influential groups obstructing the bill. Heritage Action pushes intellectually dishonest, fact-less talking points propagating the myth that unemployment benefits exacerbate unemployment, that the unemployment rate is high because the jobless are happy on the dole.
Many readers hope this year’s midterm elections will change things for the better. They won’t. There are too few competitive races, the GOP tightened up it’s rules to prevent primary challenges, and the hyper-partisan nature of congressional elections and low voter turnout guarantee that all but few of the members of the 113th Congress will be back for the 114th.
Change will come through grassroots efforts: contacting politicians, protesting and registering as independent voters. If enough go independent, the parties will take notice. Changing one's registration can easily be done online.
This is an election year, so candidates will be making a lot of rounds on the campaign trail. Protesting their events is good option. Even just a small group of 10 protesters can make a difference, and perhaps get press attention.
The only way the extension is going to get back up to the
flagpole is people use their personal political power to make it so.