I am sure that had there been a network interview of Robert E. Lee after his surrender at Appomattox, Gen. Lee would have talked about the need to compromise to avoid holding the populace hostage via partisan bickering. "Sure, I gave up some things but I got to keep my sword.", General Lee would have said. Since President Obama is a fan of history perhaps this was his model for accepting the "compromise" on tax cuts for the rich.
Monday night's agreement to extend tax cuts for all for two years and unemployment benefits to 99 weeks for 13 months is truly bipartisan. There is plenty for anyone to dislike:
1. Rich folks can dislike helping the lazy unwashed masses that refuse to find a job.
2. The working poor can dislike that they received nothing from this agreement. Their earnings leave minimal tax burden. The burden of the working poor is working and still being poor.
3. Small businesses can dislike that for all the agreement has to offer it will have minimal effect in stimulating demand. Demand more than anything drives small business and the economy.
4. Same for the middle class. Whatever benefits they derive from this agreement, without growing demand and growing American manufacturing, the middle class continues to shrink.
5. Future generations can dislike paying for the always burgeoning bank accounts of the wealthy. This agreement make the bill for future generations more expensive.
6. 99ers can dislike the whole agreement.
Ezra Klein points out the real good in this compromise is it creates a framework of future bipartisan agreements. Mr. Klein has a great point but that thought goes in the wait and see column.
There is loads of bad in this compromise with the Republicans. Most obvious is the contempt this agreement shows for the long-term unemployed. With 5 job seekers for each job, if you're unemployed for longer than 99 weeks, you're on your own. For those with reinstated unemployment benefits, if you've received more than 43 weeks of benefits, you'll probably be a 99er sooner than you think. If you'll still be eligible for benefits in 13 months, you'll be back in this fight after Thanksgiving, 2011. If you think job search statistics will improve significantly over the next 13 months, God bless your optimism.
The to do list is simple: scream loudly and scream often. To simplify this call to action, here are some easy suggestions: Click the link on the right side of the blog and sign the petition. Here are links to 2 other petitions. (if you're not on Twitter you can cut and paste to Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi). After you've signed these petitions, pass them along to your friends. Call, fax and email your Representatives and Senators. Request extended funding and additional weeks of unemployment benefits. Without these two improvements ask them to vote against the bill. Do not go quietly into the night, some will not make it to the morning.