ColumnistsJulianne MalveauxOp-EdOpinion

Where Bipartisanship is Out of Order

Julianne Malveaux

By Julianne Malveaux

NNPA Columnist

 

Former Kansas Senator and 1996 Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole was recently presented with an award that is named after him. The World Food Program USA’s first George McGovern and Bob Dole Leadership Award, is named after the Senator and his friend and colleague, Senator George McGovern. The two teamed up in the 1970s to make food stamps easier to get and use. Today, Republicans in Congress have been adamant that food stamps should be cut.

Dole, a conservative, and McGovern, a liberal, were not always on the same page about poverty, government programs, and food stamps.  Were they both in the Senate now, they would likely share the commitment to reduce or eliminate hunger and yet they might not agree on how much should be spent on the challenge. But surely, neither would be of the mind to cut the food stamps program as significantly as the Republicans of the 113th Congress would like to cut them. The GOP plan wants reductions of at least $40 billion over 10 years, eliminating about 4 million families from the program.  Bipartisan relationships like those that Senators Dole and McGovern shared are rare these days because party lines have been so tightly drawn.

Thus, while some will celebrate the Patti Murray (D-Wash.), Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) budget that will prevent future government shutdowns (that is, as long as there is agreement on debt ceiling), I am among those that decry the hollow victory in the passage of this budget.  Human needs are still sidelined to budget cutting zeal.  Needs, including education, health, and other programs still experience cuts, reducing our investment in our nation’s future. The new budget deal is, perhaps, better than nothing, but it can barely be called bipartisan.   It is better than nothing, but still quite disgraceful.

While the food stamp program was once paired with the farm bill in a way to create a “something for everyone” bipartisan approach, the uncoupled two bills allow farmers to gain while hungry people don’t.  Still, failure to adjust aspects of the farm bill may cause milk prices to rise before Congress returns to work in January.  No matter.  Republicans in Congress seem to subscribe to the Marie Antoinette theory of food distribution.  Let them eat cake.  No worries for the hungry or the poor.  There is cake somewhere.  They just, says Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) “have to get a job”.

While budget-lite passed, the unemployment insurance extension did not. On December 28, 1.3 million long- term unemployed people will collect their last check, unless new legislation is passed in January. Congress says it “might” look at retroactive benefits.  Get a job, Senator Paul?  Really?  Senator Paul apparently does not read the monthly Employment Situation, released last week.

While it indicated that the unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent in November, it also reported that more than four million people have been unemployed for more than half a year.  Additionally, the alternative measures of unemployment, which include part time and discouraged workers, suggest that real unemployment is 13.2 percent (and 25 percent for African Americans).  Where are these unemployed people supposed to find jobs, when the federal government has removed itself from the job creation business even as our infrastructure continues to fray?

The unemployment insurance extension would cost $26 billion for two years.  Budget balancers say that’s too much and pushes the federal budget into further deficit.  The economy is hurt, not helped, when the unemployed don’t have money.  Their inability to spend will slow economic recovery and will further slow job creation.  The unwillingness to assist those considered “collateral damage” in our broken economy has less to do with fiscal responsibility than with the “get a job, let them eat cake” mentality embraced by so many Tea Party republicans.

To fully applaud the Murray/Paul budget is like applauding people for saying hello.  It is a tenuous bipartisanship, and it is a compromised achieved on the backs of the hungry and the unemployed.   The Murray/Paul budget is an example of the devolution of bipartisanship from the days when two men reached across the aisle to figure out how to reduce the amount of food insecurity in our nation.

Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer.  She is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.

Tags
Show More

Dr. Julianne Malveaux

Dr. Julianne Malveaux is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women. She is an economist, author and commentator who’s popular writings have appeared in USA Today, Black Issues in Higher Education, Ms.Magazine, Essence Magazine, the Progressive and many more. Well-known for appearances on national network programs, including CNN, BET, PBS, NBC, ABC, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, C-SPAN and others; Malveaux is booked to offer commentary on subjects ranging from economics to women's rights and public policy. She has also hosted television and radio programs. She has also lectured at more than 500 colleges/universities and corporate events. For the last 5 years Dr. Malveaux has focused and centered her efforts on public speaking appearances and her work as a broadcast and print / journalist and author.

Related Articles

Back to top button

My News Matters to me - Washington Informer Donations

Be a Part of The Washington Informer Legacy

A donation of your choice empowers our journalists to continue the work to better inform, educate and empower you through technology and resources that you use.

Click Here Today to Support Black Press and be a part of the Legacy!

Subscribe today for free and be the first to have news and information delivered directly to your inbox.

Select list(s) to subscribe to


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Washington Informer Newspaper, 3117 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE, Washington, DC, 20032, http://www.washingtoninformer.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact
Close

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker