A tribute to the 99ers: We are not invisible.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mignon Veasley-Fields, Role Model, Hero but only half right.

When I got a chance to review email Friday night, I found another outstanding article from Donalee King. Donalee reviewed an exchange between Ed Schultz and Mignon Veasley-Fields. Ed Schultz has been the strongest media voice advocating on behalf of the 99ers. Ms. Veasley-Fields, a 99er has also been an advocate for the unemployed, consistently available to educate about the plight of the 99ers.  When Ms. Veasly-Fields (I know her as @agape122) speaks for the 99ers, she speaks for me.

In conversation with Ed, Ms. Veasley-Fields laid blame for the failure of S3706 on both parties in Congress.

"Well Ed, yes, we have committed that we are going to encourage our fellow 99ers to vote for either party that their choice. However, ??Ed, yesterday was very disappointing for us. And even though we are trying to tell them to vote, many of them are not going to vote even though the No NOVO says to go ahead and do this. They were disillusioned by what they saw on the Senate floor yesterday. We were grateful for Senator Stabenow for her effort, but we thought it was just sort of put together really quickly like a dog and pony show in order to get us to vote for them. This is a sentiment across this nation." Ms. Fields told Ed.

Schultz countered: "But if the Republicans, but Mignon, if the Republican Senator had not stood up, this would have gone through, and you would have had the votes, and you would have gotten an extension. It's the Republicans. Why take it out on the Democrats, the majority Party that time and time again has been there for the unemployed?

"To which Mignon replied: "Well you know, Ed, we have gone back in the history of the tiers. We as 99ers have tried to figure this out ourselves. What has happened is we can remember the time in which the Republicans said, "Sure, get another tier. Use the stimulus funds. And the Democrats said, 'No, we need to find sourcing for unemployment.' So now we're thinking back on that, and we're realizing it's not the Republicans. It was the Democrats that caused us to be in the situation that we're in. We want the Democrats to come back before this election, and we want them to come back and rectify this, Ed."

I don't need to comment on the actions of the Republican caucus, their actions are self-declaratory. So I am going to concentrate on the Democrats and their total mismanagement of  the legislative process.

Even before Senator Bunning blocked benefits in February, the Republicans made their strategy obvious: Party unity to block everything.  Still the Democrats attempted to include the Republicans in the legislative process.  Memo to Charlie Brown (as played by Harry Reid): No matter what Lucy (as played by any Senate Republican) says, nor how much you want to believe her, as sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, Lucy will pull the football away.  You will always land flat on your back, every time. As long as the Dems continue to play Charlie Brown, progressive agenda items (extended unemployment benefits) will remain blood battles. Until the Democrats approach the unemployment safety net and job creation together as a long term issue the results will be substandard.

Use of  "dormant" stimulus funds to pay for any Tiers of unemployment benefits is questionable politics and curious policy. Politically, I doubt the Republican's sincerity (see memo to Charlie Brown above) in voicing this suggestion. Ignoring Tea Party crazy candidates,  Republican Senators are the party of David Vitter, John Ensign and Jim DeMint; hypocrisy and arrogance defined.  As for policy, the "unspent" stimulus funds are already allocated to specific projects. Spending these funds on a safety net today makes them unavailable for job creation tomorrow. Without continued job creation there will be a greater need for the same safety net in the future, merely shifting burden within the same demographic. This type of "Darwinism" is often replicated in a laboratory experiment: Starve some mice,  put 1 or 2 pieces of cheese in their common area and watch the mice fight it out. As policy this tactic is a favorite of the wealthy. Keep the disadvantaged fighting amongst themselves. While competing against each other for limited resources the disadvantaged won't organize for their common good. The result maintains the status quo, a primary goal of well healed conservatives and totally contrary to a progressive agenda. 
Hungry and homeless are neither progressive nor conservative issues. Hunger and homelessness are human issues. Unfortunately the current conservative responses to these social issues are...? I don't know the conservative response to hunger and homelessness because I haven't heard any. Clearly, I disagree with using unspent stimulus funds to pay for extended unemployment benefits. But it's okay to disagree with someone, even a hero like Mignon Veasley-Fields. It's counterproductive to squabble like hungry lab rats.

Do you agree or disagree about using stimulus funds for unemployment? What about unity of message for the 99ers?


  1. The Department of Labor has a chronology of Federal unemployment compensation laws on their website. It shows that the Federal government has enacted Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) legislation five times before 2010. PAYGO has never been a consideration in passing TEUC bills - not under Democratic Congresses in 1958, 1961 and 1971; and not under Republican Congresses in 2002 and 2003.

    So, why now? The only difference now is the "block everything" strategy you referred to above, which is part and parcel of the GOP's "slow-motion government shutdown" strategy.

    The only path back to power for the GOP is to portray the Democratic majority as ineffectual. To do that, they've become the Party of No, which is rather like an arsonist complaining to a reporter about the fire department.

    But back to the question at hand. The Senate's PAYGO rules exempt a number of categories, including emergency spending. With almost 15 million unemployed Americans looking for work, and only three million job openings available, programs like the HIRE Act that stimulate job creation certainly qualify as emergency spending.

    Until the employment situation can return to normal, based on measurements like the employment-to-population ratio and a much smaller seekers-to-job openings ratio, Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation needs to remain in effect, both to provide the assistance that the unemployed need, as well as to provide the economic stimulus that will help keep the employment situation from growing worse.

  2. Help the 99ers:

    Thanks for adding sources to further the point that until there are more jobs the safety net of extended unemployment benefits must continue. Since historically these extensions have been exempt from paygo under both parties I agree that these extensions can be "emergency allocations" and therefore unfunded. My frustration with the Dems is a failure to address this situation in a comprehensive manner. S3706 has come closest tying job creation and an extension of a safety net together in the same bill. However, should the Senate magically pass S3706 this morning, the House approve this afternoon and Pres. sign tonight, tomorrow AM we need to lobby for Tier VI, because the seeker to job ratio will not drop sufficiently in 20 weeks. I want to see the Dems pursue legislation tying extended weeks with job creation and a metric other than weeks ex: unemployment rate of 6.1% (the unemployment rate when TARP was passed). Still I am going out on Nov. 2 to vote DEM.