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Party Loyalty
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Calloused Republicans Would Spit On The Poor

By James Donahue

Dishonored and criminally charged former Republican House Majority Leader Tom Delay recently got publicity when he praised Republican Senator Jim Bunning’s move to temporarily block an extension in unemployment benefits to an estimated 5 million Americans.

In an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley, Delay suggested that people are encouraged to stay home and not even look for jobs when they are living on government unemployment.

Crowley asked if he meant that “people are unemployed because they want to be?”  To which Delay answered: “Well, it is the truth. And people in the real world know it.”

The Senate passed that ten billion dollar stopgap unemployment measure after an end-of-the-month delay that forced state and federal offices to temporarily close the books on unemployed people who had used up their benefits, then go to the expense of starting new paperwork after the one-month-long extension was signed into law.

Ironically, Bunning argued that he blocked the measure because he wanted to draw the line on government spending. Yet his actions caused massive and unnecessary costs in paperwork. Also Bunning and the other Republican legislators in Washington appear to have no trouble approving expenditures for billions of dollars in support of bank and insurance bailouts and feeding the massive military industrial complex.

Bunning and Delay, who have probably never experienced the humility of unemployment, poverty and homelessness, have demonstrated the epitome of congressional hypocrisy.

Delay appears to be buying his way out of an indictment on charges of criminal violations of Texas state campaign finance laws and money laundering. The charges were leveled in 2005, Delay pleaded innocent, but the state prosecutor has yet to bring the case to trial. He resigned from Congress over the scandal but appears to still carry clout with the media.

Bunning is obviously using his position as a lame duck senator to do the dirty work for a pack of Republicans plotting to obstruct everything the Obama Administration is attempting to accomplish. His position appears to be loyalty to his party over service to his constituents. He will go out of office assured of receiving much of the regular salary he currently receives plus the best health insurance money can buy for the rest of his life.

These two men are not true representatives of the people who elected them to office. Delay was the son of a Texas oil man and Bunning gained his fame as a Major League baseball star. Most all people getting elected to high political office these days have either the money or the fame to gain the financial support it takes to win their seats of power.

Once they get in office, they seem more than willing to accept bribe money from the lobbiests and big corporations that financed their campaigns. To hell with what the people back home want. They use porkbarrel money to finance some highway construction and build bridges and dams, giving the appearance of doing what they are being paid to do. But it is all a scam. 

The old stories about great men like Abraham Lincoln emerging from log cabins and the grass roots of America to win the presidency are almost unheard of. The closest we came to that in recent years was the electrifying win by Barack Obama, and he didn't emerge from poverty.

Because of circumstances beyond our control, my wife and I experienced both homelessness and unemployment for a while during our late-life adventures in Arizona just over a decade ago.

We went there in the fall after I took an early retirement and my wife was promised a government job as a medical technician in a federal hospital on the Hopi Reservation. The job promised a good salary and a furnished home. On our way, however, our legislators got into a battle over the budget and on Oct. 1, President Bill Clinton, without a new budget in place to start the next fiscal year, put a freeze on government spending. Consequently, by the time we arrived, my wife's promised job was dried up and we were left stranded without a place to live and with only a limited amount of cash on which to live.

The story of what we endured before we got out of that mess is too lengthy to include here. My point is that we know what it is like to be in the streets and out of money. We also know what people go through to apply for and receive unemployment checks, and then try to live on the meager amount of money received.

In that state and at that time, people on unemployment were required to actively spend their days seeking employment, and to show up each week with the names and telephone numbers of the places where they applied. The unemployment office called these numbers at random, and if anyone said we failed to seek employment at their business, the unemployment checks immediately ceased.

There also were weekly meetings that amounted to training on how to apply for and get hired for jobs. 

In short, there was no time for people to sit on their fannies and enjoy the “free” unemployment money. Our other task during that period was trying to pay for low-cost housing, pay utilities, buy gas for the car and food for the table on what was less than minimum wage.

Those checks may have been meager, and the task of applying for them and getting the assistance humiliating, but they got us over the hump. We both eventually landed good jobs, found a good place to live, and life for us went on.

But times were different then. Because of a crisis economic climate, largely caused by lax economic controls on banks and lending institutions by the federal government since Ronald Reagan was in office, American jobs have dried up. People are going years without finding employment. The middle class is disappearing. What is emerging is a class system with about 10 percent of the population living in extreme wealth, and everybody else in poverty.

America is sadly losing its image as a land of opportunity. And it is all due to greed and corruption in high places. Even the U.S. Supreme Court has joined in the conspiracy, giving big corporations the freedom to finance campaigns for political candidates of their choice. .