Bob Dylan’s America

— by Rich Dunn, NVRDC 2nd Vice Chair

This morning I was listening to Bob Dylan’s song “Like a Rolling Stone” on the radio, and was struck by the line, “When you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose.” That no doubt resonates with the growing number of Americans who have nothing to lose.

Exhibit A: While short term unemployment is back near its historical norm, the number out of work for 27 weeks or longer remains near historic highs. That’s why extended benefits have been renewed no less than 11 times.

That problem remains unresolved, yet extended unemployment benefits are not being renewed for a 12th time. They will expire on December 28th, leaving 1.3 million breadwinners without any bread. The effects will ripple through 2014, leaving 4.9 million job seekers without a lifeline by the end of the year.

The economic effects of those cuts will include 240,000 fewer jobs and a 0.4 percent loss of GDP, which will lower tax revenues and grow the deficit. How ironic is that? And here’s something else that’s ironic: John Boehner’s government shutdown cost the treasury $24 billion, which is exactly what renewing extended unemployment benefits for a year would have cost.

There’s more. On November 1st, SNAP benefits were cut 15% for families with not enough money for food, and in January the House will approve a farm bill with another $40 billion in SNAP cuts. That won’t just hurt food producers, processers, retailers and hungry kids, it will further reduce final demand in the economy, and yes, increase the deficit.

Now the Ryan-Murray budget deal makes permanent the sequester cuts to Head Start, Meals on Wheels, Section 8 housing assistance and shelters for the homeless. And with yet another debt limit showdown looming at the end of February, anti-government zealots in congress will have more leverage to force cuts to programs which the most vulnerable among us depend on to survive.

I can’t help but wonder what’s going to happen when all these people who have nothin’ to lose decide to do something about it. Like vote.

2014 will be an interesting year.

House Republicans Cut Food Stamps, Obamacare, And Wall Street Oversight In Ill-Fated ‘Plan B’

— by Pat Garofalo on Dec 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm

House Republicans today, in addition to voting on Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) so-called “Plan B” — which extends the Bush tax cuts on income up to $1 million — will also vote on a bill to replace the spending cuts scheduled for the end of the year.

As The Hill reported, the bill closely mirrors a measure passed by House Republicans in May known as the “The Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012.” (Here is the underlying legislation, which will include these minor tweaks.) That bill voids both the military spending cuts and domestic spending cuts set to take place in 2013 and replaces them with a host of cuts to domestic spending, including:

Cuts to food stamps that could knock millions of low-income Americans out of the program;

Cuts to Meals on Wheels, a program that delivers meals to seniors or other individuals who are unable to prepare their own food;

Cuts funding to health exchanges that will be created under Obamacare and funding for Medicaid included in the same law;

Cuts to the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that will yield no cost savings, but will make bailouts of big banks more likely;

Denying the Child Tax Credit to the parents of American children, if the parents are undocumented immigrants.

The White House threatened to veto this set of spending cuts back in May, calling them “a particular burden on the middle-class and the most vulnerable among us.”

The inclusion of these cuts is ostensibly to placate House Republicans upset at Boehner for advancing “Plan B,” which does nothing on the spending side of the federal government’s ledger. Plan B already includes provisions that will cut taxes for some of the wealthiest Americans while raising them for low- and middle-income families.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.