I woke up today and like most
afternoons mornings I checked my phone. Twitter, Gmail, Facebook, the usual. A friend of mine had posted a link on Facebook with the title: Senate Republicans Simply Block Everything. I clicked the link. Turns out all 42 Senate Republicans signed a very strongly worded letter stating they would block all legislative items until George W. Bush’s tax cuts are renewed. No legislative item will be passed. Meaning, the extension of unemployment funds (among others). Those funds which I have been dependent upon.
I tweeted the link and then made a joke on twitter about the whole thing.
I made more jokes, but the more I thought about it, the angrier I got. Because, honestly, this had to be a joke. Kutcher’s reviving his show, right? Just at a larger scale. Surely we’re being punked. These are adults. Smart, intelligent, elected officials who are there (supposedly) to represent our best interests. Honestly, the more I read about it and the more I talk about it, the angrier I get.
So, I’m doing what any twenty-something blogger worth her salt would do. I’m writing an open letter on my blog.
Dear Senate Republicans,
Today, you presented a letter to your democratic counterparts stating that you would block all legislative items until “we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers.” Worded like that it sounds so nice. Why, surely you are doing us, the American taxpayers, a favor. This must be a good thing. I’ll be honest, I don’t really know enough about this issue (Agenda? I’m slightly uniformed, I admit) to offer any sort of real opinion on this. But, I’m all for something that gives the American people a break. Because sweet fancy Moses, do we need a break.
So here is where I run into a problem with your letter. Because while I’m sure the tax cut issue is important, and would benefit many, many people I’m failing to see how it’s so much more important than all the other issues on the table. Mainly, as it concerns me, the extension of unemployment funds.
You see, I’ve been unemployed for a little over a year now. Fifty-six weeks to be exact. Did you know, that in the state of Indiana in order to receive unemployment you must apply to a minimum of three jobs a week? So, for me, that means at minimum (because there have definitely been weeks where I have applied to more than my required three) there are 168 employers with my resume. Every week I turn on my computer and I apply to jobs. Jobs I’m not getting because I’m too overqualified. Jobs that are dead ends; jobs that won’t stimulate me creatively or intellectually (I apply to plenty of jobs that would, mind you). Jobs I’m not getting because the market is so over-saturated with people trying to get the same job I am that there will always be someone better qualified, more eager, and/or who they are able to pay less.
Yesterday when the extension funding unemployment ran out, well Senate Republicans, it wasn’t a good day for me. You see, I had the unfortunate luck of having my current tier of benefits run out at the same time the extension did. Now, were this three weeks earlier, hell even a few days earlier, I could have simply applied to the next tier and continued on. Hoping against hope that that money would support me long enough that I would finally, finally catch a break and someone would hire me.
But, unfortunately that’s not the case. Instead I received my last check today. With no hope of another until another extension is passed or I’m finally hired. It took two and a half months to pass an extension last time, so you’ll see why I can’t count on that. And a few of you did your damnedest to prevent it from happening. Daring even, to call some of us lazy, unmotivated. There are those, I’ll grant you, that will work the system. There will always be someone who does. I’m not one of those people. I’m one of the people this program was intended to help.
I’m lucky enough that I don’t have other mouths to feed, or a family to support. I have family nearby that can help me. Hell, I’m fairly certain if I showed up on a few of my friends’ doorsteps they’d take me in without asking. I only have to worry about my immediate needs. And, no matter how much I may not relish the thought, I can always move home. There are so, so many others who are not so fortunate.
So, you see why it’s hard for me to understand how the tax cuts are more important than everything else the senate could be working on. You even say so yourselves, in your letter: “While there are other items that might ultimately be worthy of the Senate’s attention, we cannot agree to prioritize any matters above the critical issues of funding the government and preventing a job-killing tax hike.” It’s hard for me to understand, then, how you can do what I can only equate to a toddler holding its breath until it gets its way or passes out. Do we have to wait until you pass out? Because the American people, who you seem to care so deeply about, don’t have that kind of time. Never mind that it’s the holiday season. Never mind gifts and what is supposed to be a season of generosity. I’m talking basics here. Millions of Americans barely scraping by because you refuse to move forward until your demands are met. Now seems like a time for compromise, not ultimatums.
So, I can only hope, Senate Republicans, that you have not lost your way and that this truly is an issue worthy of such drastic action. Because today, while you were presenting a strongly worded letter, I spent 20 minutes crying when I used the last of my deodorant because I don’t have the funds to buy more. I truly hope that your ultimatum isn’t doing a larger disservice to the American public. Because from where I’m sitting, that’s all I can see.