Monday, November 15, 2010

Will Anything Come From The Lame Duck?

It's that time again, gentle readers, when Congress returns to Washington to sit on their bums and get pretty much nothing done.  Yep.  It's another lame duck session.  Your MatchGirl would like to believe that the Congress-people and Senators will do their due diligence and decide about a few things that are on their agenda.  Your MatchGirl would like to believe that they will not just bide their time, waiting for the new session to begin in 2011 and a partisan rivalry to throw the country into a standstill for the next two years.

For unemployeds, there is only one true issue - I mean, it's great if they vote on the 20 bills they've got lined up - but, dear ones, there is only one bill that matters to you right now.  One they need to vote on before November 30, 2010.  And that is the extension of unemployment benefits.  If Congress doesn't vote before this date, before the Thanksgiving recess, then upwards of 2 million people could be left with no safety net.  No matter your thoughts on the unemployed in this country - whether you think they are milking the system, they are lazy or you really know the truth - there are a lot of people who rely heavily on those benefits - to feed their families, to pay their rent, to get their heat turned on - and it's not fair, entering the holiday season, especially,  to leave them so literally out in the cold.

This morning I heard a figure on the radio - I can't recall the source they were quoting - that said for every one dollar put into unemployment benefits, two dollars go back into the community.  This means that those people collecting benefits (people like you and formerly me), are buoyed by this tiny bit of income these benefits provide and they are paying them back to the economy - into the MTA, into the indie bookstore down the block, into Walmart, into the bodega, into church collection baskets, into grocery stores and farmer's markets.  Here is a place where math as most of us understand it does not make sense.  Here is a place where one equals two.

Your MatchGirl is no economist.  But hey, neither are most of the people who are sitting in the House and Senate right now.  Goodness knows, there has to be a better way.  But she knows one thing, gentle ones, she knows that any math you do that makes one equal two is only good math in this economy.  Sure, job creation is paramount - unemployment extensions are no magic salve, merely a Band-Aid on the wound - but those jobs will take time to create and fill.  It cannot happen overnight.  They will certainly not be created in the next few weeks nor, realistically speaking, the next few years.

There is no instant solution to the massive problems in joblessness, malemployment and unemployment in this country, but if the lame duck Congress does just one thing right in the next handful of weeks it will be to pass another unemployment extension.  This is important.  This matters.

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