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Blog of Mass Destruction

Do Incentives Only Work On The Wealthy?

By The Reverend Published: January 7, 2014

This cold is not cool.

Looks like the Senate may take a vote today on extending emergency unemployment benefits to 1.3 million Americans who lost benefits January 1. What's still unclear in the Senate is whether enough Republicans will join Democrats to invoke closure and proceed to a full Senate up-or-down vote.

But even if the Senate passes a three month extension.....wow, a whole 90 days.... there is still the House to contend with. I have no idea what that Chamber of Confusion will do with the UI extension...if anything at all.

National unemployment is still over 7%, which means that this would mark the first time in modern American history when the unemployment rate was that high and Congress refused to extend emergency UI.

It does appear that a few Republicans are, predictably, leaning toward a "pay for" answer to any UI extension. In other words, Republicans may eventually go along with a 90 day UI extension, as long as the money needed is offset by other spending cuts.

Why would that be the case? Because, in case you hadn't noticed, most elected Republicans over the last 5 years have a special job to do as long as Democrats control the Senate and Democrat, Barack Obama, sits in the White House. That job is to do as much damage to our national economy as they can reasonably get away with in the hope of using a sluggish national economy against Democrats in this year's midterm election campaigns. High and mighty "values", usually having to do with, you guessed it, debt and deficits, are often repeated by Republicans to conceal their shamelessness in purposely doing damage to our national economy.

In just one week since emergency UI has ended states have lost $400 million in revenues.That is not a bug in Republican ideology...it is a feature.....but, oddly, only when Democrats control Washington.

Further......the loss of this money in the economy will cause the loss of 238,000 more jobs It will also force even more people onto Food Stamps and other public assistance even as these programs are cut.

Republicans are also aware of those repercussions....because those repercussions are all part of their larger plan to further damage the national economy. If national GDP decreases, or is stunted,.....and that leads to MORE unemployment and MORE people trying to access safety net assistance....then Republicans can campaign this year against Democratic opponents....pointing to a still-sluggish economic recovery marked by record requests for safety net help....as reasons why Democrats should be replaced.

Pretty slick if your political party doesn't give a damn about, you know, the lives of Americans....OR.....the economic well-being of the nation.

But there's something else here that I find...well....wrong. It has to do with incentives.

We are constantly told by conservatives that very wealthy Americans will refuse to work their boot-strapping magic if tax rates on their riches are increased. Ever heard that one? It's the "going Galt" propaganda. As the Atlas Shrugged mythology goes....if "job creating" investors are not incentivized with ever-lower tax rates....they'll just quit working their "magic", take their riches....and leave the marketplace altogether. That'll teach 'em.

In this "argument", the key is....the incentive. Rich folk have to be constantly incentivized by lower tax rates, or they will book.

But the incentive thing doesn't seem to fit when conservatives are talking about extending UI. We have been told by numerous Republican officials that people who had jobs....and lost them because of our terrible recession....are not incentivized enough to look for work while they are still cashing a UI check.

The average UI check is around $300 per week. Republicans I've heard explain that the unemployed should take jobs EVEN if they pay less than what UI pays. But that "thinking" seems to fly in the face of GOP ideology for cutting taxes on the rich.

Setting aside the fact that the unemployed who still receive UI checks MUST continue to look for work.....why would it be perfectly acceptable, or worse, preferred,.....for the rich to be incentivized through lowering tax rates.....but the unemployed to be cut off from their only economic lifeline IN ORDER to be incentivized? Seems like a double standard kind of thing to me.

Are some Americans created more equally, ya' think?

Summarizing.....the GOP plan for a midterm election year is to continue to harm the economy and hope no one notices, or Village media, at least, minimizes coverage of Republicans purposely harming the economy......AND.....keeping the crazy in their midst focusing on the awful, terrible, troubled, botched, failure witnessed in millions more Americans gaining health coverage through the ACA.

Quite a plan.

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