Dead cows versus 99er unemployment extensions and job creation? Sounds ludicrous — but it is not.
Congress passed and President Barack Obama recently signed into law a compromise package totaling and estimated $858 billion in spending and non-revenue generating, not one dollar of which is offset or balanced by a complimentary revenue generating idea or generator. Of that $858 billion, $57 billion was allotted toward funding the expired unemployment benefits extension system (which ended on November 30), the four Tiers of unemployment benefits categories that help support American workers who have found themselves still without gainful employment past the regular unemployment compensation period of 26 weeks.
In all the tax cuts and breaks ($801 billion worth), there was absolutely no provision for a growing number of jobless American workers who have found long-term unemployment a continuing ordeal — the 99ers. And yet, at the same time political parties were fighting over extending billions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthy (they were agreed on tax cuts to the other 97 percent of the poorest Americans), they had put together an omnibus federal government budget package totaling $1.1 trillion, a budget that would keep the government running until next September. A budget that will — of necessity — see cutbacks, part of which will come due to the passage of the compromise bill. A budget that included seemingly unnecessary earmarks, as revealed by the office of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), allocations in the billions of dollars for things like maple syrup research and wolf-eaten cattle.
An unemployment rate of 9.8 percent (15.1 million individuals) going into the new year, no jobs creation legislation in sight, an estimated 5 million 99ers, those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits eligibility (regular and the four Tiers of extensions), searching for jobs that aren’t available, an estimated 4-6 million more 99ers on the way, and Congress writes earmark legislation — funding that by law must be spent on the designation — for, among other things, blackbird management in Louisiana and swine waste removal in North Carolina.
Money can be found for dead cows, studying the viscosity of maple syrup, dealing with a blackbird population, and pig crap removal, but those dependent on unemployment benefits extensions, American citizens who have been part of the American workforce in a better economy, were forced to wait for reauthorization, facing possible homelessness, utility cut-offs, repossessions, and various other hardships. Money could be found for pet pork projects but not for the long-term unemployed, 99ers that search in vain for jobs in a near jobless economy.
The federal government has to have money by which to operate — a simple concept that is easily accepted. It is also easy to understand that the federal government is not going to allow itself not to be funded. As lawmakers, the elected politicians in Washington annually compile what they consider necessary budgetary spending measures for various parts of the government, then enact said compilation — usually a monstrosity of budget provisions, unrelated bills, amendments to unrelated bills, and rescindings of prior legislative acts. And it is often encumbered with earmarks, those funding allocations that have become the target of government budgetary watchdogs and anti-spending advocates. This year’s omnibus measure totals $1.1 trillion. Within it rests, by an estimate revealed by Sen. John McCain’s office, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Taxpayers against Earmarks, and WashingtonWatch.com, over 39,000 earmarks in a nearly 2000-page bill totaling over $130 billion in allocated spending.
An entire year (actually 13 months) of unemployment benefits extensions was reauthorized in the recent compromise bill. Two years of tax cuts that will deny the federal treasury — that institution that pays for what the government writes into its annual budget — nearly a trillion dollars in two years was enacted. Nothing was added for actual job creation programs or for the exploding number of 99ers.
But billions of dollars were added for dead cows and pig offal removal.
The salient question must be: When will the federal government actually do something beneficial to the economic stability of the nation? When will measures be written provides actual employment for the unemployed? How long do the American taxpayers have to wait and watch mismanagement of their tax dollars on unimportant and sometimes frivolous spending allocations before enough is enough? Exactly when will Congress take its mandate of “provide for… the common welfare…”
The $1.1 trillion budget omnibus constructed by both Democrats and Republicans didn’t even make it to the floor of the Senate for a vote Friday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) pulled the measure from consideration without getting a vote when he found out that most, if not all, of the eight Republican senators that were thought to be supportive of the omnibus spending package had decided not to support it. Although the reasons for opposition to a bill that Republicans helped construct are varied, at least part of the opposition came due to the $130 billion in earmarks included in the omnibus.
A simple emergency resolution was passed to fund the government over the holiday recess. But the government will be funded. The question remains: Just how much pork will be in it when it is finalized?
As it stands, $727,000 is allocated to reimburse ranchers in three states Midwestern states if their cattle is eaten by wolves.
Where is the compensation for when 99ers have been devoured by their own set of wolves?
John McCain, “Statement by Senator John McCain on the Fiscal Year 2011 Omnibus Appropriations Act,” McCain.Senate.gov