Despicable John

Despicable John "I Hate The Unemployed" EnsignMan, yet another movie you do not want to see: Despicable John, starring John “I hate the unemployed unless they got nice butts and I fired them because their husband found out I was schtupping them” Ensign.

Ensign has been going to great lengths lately to defend his misguided votes against extending unemployment benefits even though his state currently has the highest unemployment in the nation.

In fact, on his website, the official one partially paid for by those very unemployed, Ensign falsely claims that “Democrats” voted down the benefits, when in actuality only two Democrats voted against the most recent bill: idiot Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Harry Reid, who voted against so that he can bring the bill back to the senate at a later date. (USSenate, HuffPo)

There is also a longish video, again paid for by the American taxpayer, of Ensign trying to explain his position to unemployed Nevadans whose benefits he would cut.

Basically, Ensign’s position is this: the Senate can’t extend the benefits unless it finds some other budget items to pay for it. That is, the Senate must “cut” something to pay for them. Otherwise, he won’t vote for them.

Ensign along the way tries to make himself out as some kind of budget hero. Oh! He whimpers, it would be so easy for me, a Senator presumably representing a state with 14% unemployment, to vote for the benefits. But, no! I must (suddenly) defend an obscure economic policy point at the expense of the very people I represent! Weep for me, my friends!

Despicable John Trying To Avoid Nevada UnemployedNow, even if there were some justification for the Senator’s (sudden) panic about deficit spending, you’d think that the good senator would consider the emergency situation in his state to be, well, an emergency. Defending some arcane economic point while his own constituents suffer in an economy that’s the worst since the Great Depression seems completely insane. Indeed it will look much more insane if, as Wall Street folk and others are beginning to suspect, there’s a double dip into recession ahead, or worse, the Third American Depression created by Congress’s –and the Administration’s–failure to spend sufficient stimulus money. What makes Ensign’s position odder is that he’s kind of late to the deficit-fearing party given how he supported disguising funding for the Afghanistan and Iraq police actions outside the normal budget back in the bad-old Bush years.

It also seems politically insane, unless he’s hoping that Nevada’s unemployed will forget what he’s done between know and 2012 when he’s up for election. Or maybe he doesn’t care, figuring that the fallout from his sexual harassment of an employee has doomed his re-election anyway.

Lots of people who are a whole lot smarter than Ensign also find the sudden deficit worries to be out of place. Benefits,  for example, are quickly spent at local businesses, offering a stimulus value. Long term deficits can only be reduced during times of robust growth in any case, and, as folks like Paul Krugman have argued, (sudden) urges to foster a Puritan austerity and  punish the unemployed are hardly means to attain economic growth. Indeed, cutting unemployment benefits will likely force the unemployed, especially those who are older, onto welfare programs where they may remain for the rest of their lives. That would increase the long-term deficit more than the benefits. (WSJ)

Even real deficit hawks don’t buy into fledgling Ensign’s arguments that an unemployment benefit extension will much affect long term deficits. One deficit hawk put it this way:

“As a deficit hawk, I wouldn’t worry about extending unemployment benefits,’’ said Bob Bixby, president of the Concord Coalition. “It is not going to add to the long-term structural deficit, and it does address a serious need. I just feel like unemployment benefits wandered onto the wrong street corner at the wrong time, and now they are getting mugged.’’ (BostonGlobe)

Quite ironical, ain’t it, that Nevada Senator Despicable John, would join in on the mugging.

Oh, by the way: write Ensign and tell him to change his vote.

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