I have heard through the grapevine that there are upwards of 150 pieces of legislation that have passed the House and are sitting in some black hole called the Senate going into the upcoming Lame Duck session. Almost two years later, there are appointments that are still held up and in limbo awaiting action by the Senate. The tenor of obstructionism most likely gained fuel with the outcome of the midterm elections. What legislation can we reasonably expect Congress to get passed during this short session before the end of the year? The unemployed, including millions of 99ers that need immediate relief, await action on unemployment extensions. So much to do: so little time.
What is clearer than the results of the midterms is the mood of the American people going into this Lame Duck session – and that mood is that our legislators should be focused 110% on improving the economy and helping those that have lost their job by no fault of their own. Since November of 2007, America has lost over 7 million jobs. Yes, over 7 million. People cannot find jobs that do not exist. Americans are smart enough to know this and with the results of the recent midterms in, if there is any clear mandate, it reflects the American resolve to fix the economy and get America back to work. It is highly unlikely that this initiative will be accomplished through continued partisan politics. It is not something that can wait until January for the Republicans to take their seats. It needs to start now, and it needs to start with extensions for unemployment and bringing the much maligned 99ers back into the fold by passing a Tier V benefit.
We can point fingers, place blame, and bad mouth the unemployed, but we cannot make this their fault. The numbers speak for themselves. 7 million jobs to the negative. 7 million less jobs than two years ago. Our population did not shrink, at least not yet. Our failure to continue to support those that have lost their job by no fault of their own is a national disgrace. It is time for the Republicans and the Democrats to unite on this one simple problem – how do we support once proud and hard working Americans during their time of great difficulty?
Given the tone of most recent news communications, one should expect going into the Lame Duck session a more partisan mood that even before the midterms, if such a thing is possible! But one can also hope that with the elections behind us, and people facing the loss of their seat or two more years before the next election cycle, that cooler heads will prevail and a move to more non-partisan activities for the good of the nation is a possibility. This truly is what is needed going into the Lame Duck session. Working together for the good of the nation and not continued obstructionism that will only breed more obstructionism in the future. I have a dream. Republicans and Democrats working together for the good of the nation, taking heed of each other, and promoting support for the unemployed and pressing job expansion once again. Only time will tell if my dream will turn into a continued nightmare.