Yesterday was not a good day for 99ers. It was also not a good day for anyone receiving unemployment insurance benefits beyond 26 weeks. Nor was it a good day for small businesses in areas of high unemployment and homeowners in the very same neighborhoods. Frankly, it wasn't a good day for the "economic recovery" but at least the economic recovery doesn't require food and shelter.
A brief recap: As promised "The Americans Want To Work Act" was brought to the Senate floor with a motion for unanimous consent. Senator Stabenow and Senator Whitehouse gave impassioned speeches in favor of the bill. Senator George LeMieux of Florida (unemployment rate: 11.7%) blocked the motion. Although the bill is not dead, it will remain stalled through Senate procedures. Millions of unemployed will continue to receive nothing and will be joined by more and more unemployed each week. This is a continuing catastrophe within the borders of the US. It is unfathomable that there is no correction in sight, yet this disaster will continue. There is however one tiny message to the 99ers hidden in this mess.
I don't believe in random activity in the Senate. Any of the 41 Republican Senators could have blocked the bill. The Republicans have not been shy about blocking anything in the Senate. Why was George LeMieux given the honor of denying millions necessary assistance? I can think of two reasons: 1. Senator LeMieux was a temporary appointment and is not running for re-election. 2. Senator LeMieux broke ranks with the Republicans to support a bill assisting small businesses. How do these reasons merge and clarify the Republican message regarding the upcoming election?
Along with Senator LeMieux, Senator Voinovich joined the Democratic majority to support a bill assisting small businesses. Both Senators are retiring and both come from states with high unemployment. The Republicans claim small business to be a core constituency and don't want to appear anti-small business with the upcoming election. No Republican up for re-election wants to be seen supporting the "socialist agenda of President Obama." Using Voinovich and LeMieux grants cover on both fronts to any Republican senator up for re-election. Similarly, no Republican wants to add to the national debt now (although the republicans weren't quite as reticent during the Bush presidency) and no Republican wants to vote against unemployment benefits this close to an election. Again, using LeMieux grants cover to all running for re-election. The message to the 99ers: The Republicans are afraid of you.
As a 99er, my course of action is clear. The Republicans have not given a damn about me since Day 1 and I am going to return the favor. I am going to the polls on Nov. 2, 2010 and voting to continue a Democratic majority in Congress. I urge my fellow 99ers to join me so we have a ghost of a chance at a future.