"I've never been directly affected by an act of Congress before." Those were the words a friend used to announce that he would be one of the 1.2 million people who has suddenly found himself ineligible for continued unemployment benefits after the Senate was unable to pass the bill extending those benefits due to Republican filibuster.
My friend, of course, did nothing to bring this upon himself. He was let go from his job at a small independent record label with a good recommendation and tidy severance, which has helped tie him over since he stopped working last fall. Since then, he has taken plenty of meetings and interviews with folks in the industry, trying to figure out where would be the best fit for him, while cutting back on his spending and refusing to rack up debt.
The bigger rub comes from the fact that he recently picked up some day-to-day work on a TV show. The money he earned there actually negated his unemployment benefits on the weeks he could work. HE COULD HAVE MADE THE SAME MONEY STAYING AT HOME!
Now, due to the timing of this Congressional clusterf!@#, he finds himself without a safety net because of the work he did. By delaying his benefits a few weeks, he finds himself in exactly the wrong spot on the calendar. A bureaucratic nightmare if there ever was one.
I'm not worried about my friend too much. He's smart, he's single, he's flexible and well connected. He'll figure out something to keep his head above water. But there are 1.2 million American's are in the same boat, many with families to feed and underwater mortgages and debilitating credit card debt. Somewhere along the way, this is going to lead to more hungry kids and homeless people and emergency care services stretched to the limit (at the cost of taxpayer dollars).
The real rub is that those who voted down the benefit extensions did so because of "the deficit." This, after the proponents reduced the negative impact from $134 billion to $33 billion. And nevermind the fact that the reduced spending by folks no longer collecting unemployment checks and the strain on emergency services I mentioned above will actually tax the economy in a far less efficient way that a little more debt.
Anyone politician who says they're fighting the deficit to save our future IS A LIAR. And anyone who believes them is an idiot. This is politics, pure and simple. The right wants to hobble any and every action taken by the left to improve the condition of this country until they can regain power. And then, well, by then they obviously don't give a fly f!@# and will pick up where Bush left off, spending like crazy once they can make sure it goes into their friend's pockets, rather than the unemployed.
And as for my friend? He's is "Done with this country. I am not voting. I don't care what happens. I am going rogue as f!@#."
I wish I had a good argument against this impassioned decision, but I find myself at a loss.