Monday, December 9, 2013

This & That

-The word out of Washington is that the bi-partisan budget conference committee is close to reaching a two year deal that will avoid another costly government shutdown.  Facing a December 13th deadline, there are reports that a deal could be reached by the end of this week.  This comes as no surprise as the House is scheduled to leave town at week’s end for holiday recess; not to return until January 7th.  Nothing motivates congress to act like a delay in their vacation plans.
While any budget agreement coming out of congress is cause for celebration, it appears that this particular version lacks any real substance.  It does little to reduce the $17 trillion dollar debt.  It does not address Medicare or Medicaid, the programs primarily responsible for that debt.  It does not raise taxes. And it does not reduce the sequestration cuts in any substantive manner.
If the leaked details of this agreement are in fact correct, this budget accord fails to address the country’s financial woes in any substantive way.  It does however kick the proverbial can down the road, avoid another embarrassing, costly and politically harmful government shutdown and allow the members to attend to their holiday shopping.  Well done!

-Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Senator Rand Paul.  One of the topics currently being debated by the budget conference committee is the continuation of unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans.  The benefits are set to expire on December 28th.  Senator Rand Paul believes that these benefits should be discontinued.  He says that these benefits do nothing more than to encourage people to become dependent on the government.  Paul believes that congress would be doing recipients a favor by cutting off their benefits…empowering them to become more self reliant.
Spoken like the well-to-do son of a doctor who has no concept of reality.  The vast majority of the people collecting unemployment want to work.  They are embarrassed to find themselves in the unemployment lines, never believing that this would be their fate.  But a sluggish economy dictates their reality.  Supporting ones family takes precedent over pride. 
Apparently Senator Paul is unaware that we are still working our way out of the country’s worst economic downturn since the great depression.  Roughly 1 out of every 6 Americans lives in poverty.  The income disparity in this country between the haves and the have not’s grows ever wider.  Senator Paul believes that the way to close that gap is to widen it.  Many American cities have tried Senator Paul’s’ idea of empowerment…most notably New York.  It didn’t work.  If the good Senator really wants to empower people and get them off the unemployment lines…then he should stop all the crazy talk and pass a jobs bill.
-Speaking of income disparity, the poor and the unemployed…you should check out this New York Times piece: “The Invisible Child.”  This is a must read if you are interested in learning about the realities of living in the self proclaimed “greatest country in the world.”                     

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