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economic justice | imperialism & war

800,000 Americans will lose unemployment benefits

I would like to see demonstrations against this equal to those against war with Iraq. This is war on Americans. The left needs to make economic issues like this a high priority.
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Los Angeles Times

COMMENTARY

How the Politicos Stole Christmas

Robert Scheer

November 26 2002

What a lousy Christmas present.

On Dec. 28, three days after the celebration of a man famous for helping
the downtrodden, Republican scrooges and Democratic stooges in Congress
will hand 800,000 Americans something far worse than a lump of coal: an
end to unemployment benefits the Senate had earlier voted to extend.

Affected parents are now likely to spend the holidays putting on a brave
face for the kids, wondering how they're going to pay the rent come New
Year's Day.

An additional 90,000 unemployed workers will lose their benefits in each
subsequent week of 2003 because the Republican leadership of the House
refused to back an extension. This was too much even for Sen. Arlen
Specter (R-Pa.), who said: "It's unconscionable for us to leave town
without fixing unemployment compensation. The political symbolism of it
is just horrendous."

Neither harsh reality nor "political symbolism," however, moved President
Bush to intervene. For all of Bush's crocodile tears about those who
suffered the loss of jobs in an economy soured by a burst stock market
bubble, terrorist attacks and corporate scandals, he did nothing to ease
the burden on unemployed workers. To be charitable, it is possible that
the president does not know what an unemployment check is, or why the
failure to receive one in the dead of winter could harm a family's values
-- like the value of keeping the heat on or of having a roof over one's
head.

Evidently, there is only so much compassionate conservative spirit to
spread around, and most of it has been reserved for welfare-addicted
basket cases such as the insurance and airline industries. Now it is the
giant drug companies that have received a holiday bonus.

The pharmaceuticals earn huge profits from government-granted drug
patents but evidently will not produce new vaccines for the public's
security unless they are guaranteed a risk-free environment. Thanks to a
provision tacked onto the homeland security bill, they are now inoculated
against responsibility for injuries or deaths caused by vaccinations,
whether given in the past or the future.

We need a Charles Dickens to capture the heartlessness of Bush economics,
but in his stead we'll quote Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.): "I find it
outrageous that the Congress is going to find room in its heart to help
the poor, downtrodden drug companies but will not find room in their
hearts to deal with the problems of the long-term unemployed."

Outrageous, but not surprising. The unemployed don't have much to give in
campaign contributions, while the drug companies stuffed most of their
$30 million in donations into Republican stockings during the last
electoral go-around.

The White House does have something to offer those struggling during this
tepid "jobless recovery" -- the siren songs of patriotism, whose sweet
notes overwhelm the sour tastes of raw fear and material insecurity left
in the wake of recession and terrorist attacks.

Whenever the drums of war beat loudest, ordinary people accept economic
deprivation while the rich find ways to further enrich themselves. Not
that they'll have to look very hard.

While denying a few hundred bucks to unemployed workers, the Bush
Republicans are still moving aggressively to extend and make permanent
their budget-busting 2001 tax cut for the rich and to eliminate the
inheritance tax, thereby widening the gap between haves and have-nots.

When asked by a Los Angeles Times reporter how he could explain tax cuts
for the rich to an unemployed worker, Sen. Specter, a GOP stalwart,
bravely broke ranks long enough to reply: "I'm going to say to him, 'We
did you wrong.' "

The senator shouldn't sound so surprised. The Republicans are simply
being consistent, and the results are predictable. The rich get richer,
while the middle class steadily erodes as solid jobs are lost to cheap
labor abroad, whose docility is guaranteed by friendly dictatorships
backed by American firepower.

Wrap this rip-off in the cloak of God and country and it apparently
sells, as the last election demonstrated. Doesn't it mock the spirit of
Christ -- which the powerful conservative Christians in the GOP publicly
claim informs their every decision -- to so blatantly betray the needy as
we celebrate a savior of the poor?

homepage: homepage: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-scheer26nov26,0,5906648.coumn?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dcomment%2Dopinions

don't forget welfare for insurance companies 27.Nov.2002 23:08

like wedon't payenoughforinsurancealready

Bush signs bill to protect insurance industry in future terror attacks
Tue Nov 26, 9:20 PM ET

By SCOTT LINDLAW, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush (news - web sites) signed a bill that would reimburse the insurance industry up to $100 billion in a future terror attack.



Bush said Tuesday that the bill would boost the economy, but critics called it a taxpayer-financed gift to insurance companies.


The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks drained an estimated $40 billion from the insurance industry's roughly $210 billion in reserves, and companies told the White House last year they could not withstand another such blow.


Bush asserted that failure by lawmakers to pass a terrorism insurance bill had stalled $15 billion in construction projects because companies were reluctant to finance projects that couldn't get insurance.


Bush's figure came from Real Estate Roundtable, a trade group for property and development firms, and he repeated it Tuesday.


"Commercial construction is at a six-year low, and thousands of hard-hat workers have been kept off the job," he said in an East Room signing ceremony. "Should terrorists strike again, we have a system in place to address financial losses and get our economy back on its feet as quickly as possible."


But the Consumer Federation of America said insurance is currently available to "all but the highest risks, such as skyscrapers, rates are falling and banks are lending freely."


"It is shocking that Congress and the president accepted the wild claims made by insurance and real estate lobbyists at face value," said J. Robert Hunter, the group's director of insurance.


The federation said the new law makes taxpayers liable for billions of dollars in losses that the insurance industry could easily afford.


Under the new law, the government could aid the industry on terrorism-related claims that surpassed $5 million. Insurance companies would pay deductibles ranging from 7 to 15 percent of the premiums they received the previous year. The federal government would then cover 90 percent of everything above the deductible with the companies paying the other 10 percent. The program would be capped at $100 billion over three years.

don't forget welfare for insurance companies 27.Nov.2002 23:13

like wedon't payenoughforinsurancealready

Bush signs bill to protect insurance industry in future terror attacks
Tue Nov 26, 9:20 PM ET

By SCOTT LINDLAW, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush (news - web sites) signed a bill that would reimburse the insurance industry up to $100 billion in a future terror attack.



Bush said Tuesday that the bill would boost the economy, but critics called it a taxpayer-financed gift to insurance companies.


The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks drained an estimated $40 billion from the insurance industry's roughly $210 billion in reserves, and companies told the White House last year they could not withstand another such blow.


Bush asserted that failure by lawmakers to pass a terrorism insurance bill had stalled $15 billion in construction projects because companies were reluctant to finance projects that couldn't get insurance.


Bush's figure came from Real Estate Roundtable, a trade group for property and development firms, and he repeated it Tuesday.


"Commercial construction is at a six-year low, and thousands of hard-hat workers have been kept off the job," he said in an East Room signing ceremony. "Should terrorists strike again, we have a system in place to address financial losses and get our economy back on its feet as quickly as possible."


But the Consumer Federation of America said insurance is currently available to "all but the highest risks, such as skyscrapers, rates are falling and banks are lending freely."


"It is shocking that Congress and the president accepted the wild claims made by insurance and real estate lobbyists at face value," said J. Robert Hunter, the group's director of insurance.


The federation said the new law makes taxpayers liable for billions of dollars in losses that the insurance industry could easily afford.


Under the new law, the government could aid the industry on terrorism-related claims that surpassed $5 million. Insurance companies would pay deductibles ranging from 7 to 15 percent of the premiums they received the previous year. The federal government would then cover 90 percent of everything above the deductible with the companies paying the other 10 percent. The program would be capped at $100 billion over three years.

not so chicken 28.Nov.2002 00:28

little

and then you have more social programs on the cutting block if measure 28 doesn't pass in january ... while ohsu sits on its cushy 300 million dollar taxpayer giveaway ... schools cut days ... the military and gestapo get more and more money and power ... OHP clients are cut ... more concentration camps (ummmm... "prisons") are built ... people kill themselves over loss of services and the Oregonian isn't interested (apparently they "don't *do* suicides" ... especially if it casts the looter government officials in a bad light) ... democrats ... republicans it doesn't matter ... they're all looters - at all levels.

look up. the sky is falling. on us.

wake up and smell the revolution.

They planned it that way 28.Nov.2002 15:44

working class lefty

The elites are gradually dismantling the republic and it's the job of the mainstream media, who are part of this elite, to write these "Shit Happens" stories to keep our minds off the bigger picture.

What got left out of this story is the connection between the destruction of social programs and safety nets and FEMA, the SOA, and the department of Homeland Security. The criminals running this country plan to loot everything that isn't nailed down and lock up or kill anyone who gets in the way. Then, if things really get out of their control, the sick bastards will destroy the whole country and run off to some undisclosed but fully equipped location to enjoy the booty.

FORGET THE LEFT 29.Nov.2002 23:46

Sean Henderson lohan1@msn.com

I can't stand to hear another person say how they hope that the democrats will come back to save the day.. fuck em'

They are career politicians, think about what that means... Capitalist Career mutherfuckin Politicians.

The only party that actually cares about issues is the Green party.. and we all know that they aint gonna happen until the people wake up from their corporate comas.

Politics today are just like TV wrestling... anybody listen to the congressional debates over the war in Iraq.. fucking disgusting... so blantantly pointless.

Was learning about the history of Finland today.. they were dirt poor after WWII (that's dubya dubya two), but decided to empower a socialistic government, now they are one of the strongest countries in the world (a statistical wet dream socioeconomically) but the fucking European Union wants them to become more capitalistic.. do you think they have a choice? They will join the system and become consumed as well.

Capitalism must be shot dead once and for all - it is the greatest terrorist the world has ever known - it cannot be compromised with - it is a machine that only knows how to feed on the impoverished and weak.

Don't barter with the left or the right, let's slice the system down the middle and feed it's guts to everyone - as equally as possible.