An unemployed veteran was among those in a group delivering petitions to the office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) asking that Congress extend long term unemployment benefits last week. Wessita McKinley, speaking on behalf of the group said:
“I’ve served my country, honorable discharge. I’ve done my time. I’ve done everything right. College, school, no crime, no record. Pay my taxes. Make sure my daughter went to school.”
“Did the American dream. Got her in college,” she added. “And I’m sitting here struggling. I’m now ready to take a street sweeper job if they would offer it to me. So I’m asking you the million dollar question. What am I supposed to do right now to keep a roof over my head, food in my stomach, clothes on my back, car insurance paid?”
In a show of great compassion on behalf of the Senator, Don Stewart his spokesman told her that Majority Leader Harry Reid had rejected the amendment that Republicans had proposed and then waited to long to bring the bill to a vote. McKinley was not going to let him get away with it and continued to complain to him of her problems.
“I can only tell you what we can do here in the Senate,” Stewart replied. “I have no control over your life.”
With this kind of concern in the offices of one of the most powerful men in Congress McKinley and the rest of the millions of Americans who are suffering in the current economic climate have little to be optimistic about. The amendments that Stewart refers to are amendments with no connection to jobless benefits and were offered because they knew that Reid and the Democrats would not accept them.
He also told her an outright lie when he said that it was now “too late.” There is no reason that the Congress cannot pass the bill and make it retroactively effective, no reason that is than the fact that the Republicans do not want to make it effective from any date.
McConnell has voted for measures such as this many times without demanding offsets but now insists that the benefit be paid for with cuts elsewhere if he is to support it, and not just any cuts, they have to be the cuts that he proposes, not the ones proposed by the Democrats which would have paid for the extension for a full year.
The only cuts that are acceptable to McConnell are those which will affect the ACA, Obamacare.
The most egregious remark, however is “I have no control over your life.” This smacks of condescension, of saying “well, it’s your fault that you are in this position.” These are people who are simply trying to keep their heads above water in an economy that is not improving at a rate nearly strong enough to generate the needed jobs.
Just as important is the fact that by allowing the long-term unemployment benefit to die over $1.5 billion dollars is being taken out of the economy every month, money that these people need and that could be helping to grow the economy and regain the jobs that have been lost.
McConnell and his cronies can call themselves fiscally responsible all they want but when they intentionally cause this much damage to the economy and their constituents they are anything but responsible.