Obama's Tax Deal: Leaving out the 99ers is a 2012 Mistake

Unemployed or know someone out of work? Relieved the president's tax deal will provide thirteen months of continued unemployment benefits? Sorry to burst your bubble, but not all the unemployed promised a thirteen month authorization of benefits in exchange for the Bush tax cuts will receive those benefits for thirteen months.

The thirteen months is an authorization to fund existing tiers, not an extension beyond those tiers. The eligible unemployed will receive checks only until they exhaust their claims. Those already on the final tiers -- the up to two million who are a portion of the 6.1 million long-term unemployed -- will see their unemployment benefits end in early 2011. They will join the millions of 99ers -- those whose claims have ended -- in an escalating downward spiral of the middle class that will culminate in a burst of anger at the president when these disenfranchised new 99ers find themselves without a safety net or enough jobs to account for their numbers throughout 2011 -- while the uber-wealthy collect their exponential winnings from the tax cuts right on through 2012.

I asked Austan Goolsbee from the White House about the 99ers, the long-term unemployed who've exhausted their benefits. Why has the administration not addressed their plight? He answered me directly (and indirectly) on the video in this post. He has since elaborated on his answer to a similar question by Rachel Maddow.

What about the 99ers in the new tax bill? They're not covered. It's regrettable... Something must be done...

What's regrettable to me, as a supporter of the president who fears a nightmarish 2013 economically, ideologically and environmentally should Obama not be reelected in 2012, are those who'll find themselves destitute after having assumed thirteen months of UI means thirteen months -- not a few weeks until they exhaust their benefits and join the millions of 99ers when there will not be enough available jobs for those who will need them in time.

Are they going to vote any differently than the Midterms?

I can understand why the president felt cornered into the tax deal. The Congress did not bring up the middle class tax cuts for a vote prior to the midterms. If they had, the president could have connected with the constituents of representatives for whom he'd stumped. As it was, he didn't have the hook to say Rep. Democrat here voted to extend the middle class tax cuts. Rep. Republican there blocked that because he wanted to reward the very rich. So either your taxes will go up, constituents, if you don't reelect Rep. Democrat or I'll be forced to give a giveaway to the rich. Help me out here. Reelect Rep. Dem.

The Congress didn't take that vote prior to the midterms. Obama didn't have the hook. Whose fault it was, I don't know. The Speaker, the White House, the obstructionist GOP? Spilled milk. The public doesn't care. They should. Not to acknowledge how that left Obama in corner is disingenuous. The Midterms were the message; maybe not the one the electorate meant to give, but it was the one received. Compromise, work together. We're sick of you in D.C. Help us.

The president heard the message and made the deal his negotiators felt they could get through. But did Jack Lew and Timothy Geithner (with his burgeoning kidney stone) ask for 99ers to be included? If they did not, it was a massive oversight. Was it discussed? Did Mr. Goolsbee, having been pressed about the 99ers the week before, bring it up prior to the negotiations and to the negotiators? If so, was he listened to or ignored?

If they did bring it up and allowed the Republicans to win on that point, did they understand the implications for 2012? I bet the Republicans did.

The 99ers, already in the millions, will swell by more millions before the end of 2011 -- month by month, outrage by outrage, all of which will be directed at the president -- no matter how many jobs are created. There are simply too many unemployed to make up for the shortfall in thirteen months.

Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Goolsbee, Mr. Geithner, Mr. Lew, millions upon millions of your constituents and, exponentially, their families, their neighbors, the small businesses they support -- all of them would have looked upon you as the second coming had you negotiated something equitable for the current and upcoming 99ers in return for those horrendous top tax cuts.

How many millions can you abandon and ask not to abandon you?

Can they fix this? I hope so. Not just for the 99ers and the local businesses who depend upon their consumerism and the neighborhoods whose house prices need them to stay in their homes, but for the president's prospects in 2012 -- and, by extension, the wellbeing of the country.

Maybe Congress will be smart enough (given their track record, not an encouraging thought) to realize the Midterms could be repeated in 2012 if they don't do something for the 99ers and put in legislation for the 99ers as Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee has proposed.

There are not enough jobs yet. That's the problem. Until there are, the safety net needs reweaving.

The 99ers are not holding their breath. They're not holding on at all. Soon, millions of middle class American citizens will join them in their plunge through the torn safety net this deal does not repair.

And they will vote in 2012.

Video from Austan Goolsbee in answer to my question from the previous post:

Video from Rachel Maddow questioning Austan Goolsbee about the 99ers:

*BLS table of current unemployment statistics


1 comment:

Denver Unemployment Examiner said...

Thank you so much for writing so elqoquently about what it means to not help the millions of unemployed Americans. Your support, along with that of a variety of MSNBC hosts is cherished - believe me.

I am a 99er in CO and am stunned by Obamas willingness to leave the 99ers to fend for themselves. Thank you Ed, Ketih and Rachel for all of your great work! I want to also give Rachel a special thank you for putting Austan Goolsbee o...n the spot in her interview on Thursday night when she asked "What about the 99ers". It was amazing! Watch Goolsbee squirm in this short 1-minute video clip - and then send Rachel a huge thank you!


Also, if I may be so bold, please read my 'open letter' to my congressional Representatives, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Pelosi on the tax cut 'compromise' - and then, PLEASE get involved!


Kelly, Denver Unemployment Examiner