I agree, they're either ignorant or just plain mean...
Like most national debacles lately, the decision by Congress to let unemployment relief lapse for more than a million Americans was a bipartisan disaster.
Senate Republicans, joined by Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted "no" on an extension of aid to 1.2 million of their countrymen who have been jobless for six months, a number predicted to increase to 2 million by year's end.
The Democratic majority, falling three votes short of the 60 needed to pass a $40 billion extension measure, caved in to the threat of a filibuster and let the measure fail.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could have played hardball by forcing his opponents to conduct a true filibuster and tie up Senate business with long speeches about why the long-term jobless should be left to struggle on their own.
But Reid didn't force the issue, which is too bad. Our nation is long overdue for a full debate over the obvious need for deficit spending to snap us out of our economic doldrums.
Mainstream economics holds that accelerated government spending at times like this can shorten a downturn and speed recovery.
Government, according to this view, can help by providing enough temporary cash - through contracts with the private sector, unemployment relief, military spending and the like - to tide over the private sector until demand picks up.
In our consumer-driven economy, providing the jobless with a minimal allowance - just over $300 a week, on average - supplies families with cash that immediately gets spent on rent, food, medicine, gasoline and other necessities.
The idea is to contain the misery so that an unemployed person's plight doesn't spread like wildfire to a local hardware shop, grocery store and landlord, causing a prolonged slump.
Deficit hawks who are urging government to shut off the spigot now either don't understand this, or they don't care.
After turning a surplus into a $9 trillion debt during the years of the Bush presidency, GOP legislators have experienced an election-year conversion to fiscal tightness.
In the minds of these hawks, the abstract idea of the government spending too much outweighs stimulating recovery or alleviating the desperation of the long-term unemployed.
Even worse than cutting off benefits after 26 weeks of unemployment is the refusal to even consider extending additional aid to the so-called 99ers, the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have been jobless for 99 weeks and - after several emergency extensions - are ineligible for any more unemployment checks. New York has over 65,000 of them."I am fluent in Spanish, have a national security clearance with the FBI, ICE, DHS & DEA and years of experience in customer service," wrote Connie Kaplan, a 99er who publicized her plight on the Rochester Unemployment Examiner, a Web site by and for the jobless.
"I'm told I'm overqualified or simply never hear back from prospective employers," Kaplan wrote. "I'm now headed onto the road of losing my place of residence for lack of income. Food is gotten from food banks and each day brings me closer to total disaster."
Cries like Kaplan's have fallen on deaf ears in Washington. Beyond the purely fiscal issues lie ugly assumptions about who has lost a job and why.
"A lot of people are saying, 'Hey, it's about time. Why do we keep giving money to people who are going to go use it on drugs instead of their families?'" Hatch told the Huffington Post, citing no studies, hearings or data to support his idea - and dodging a question about what might happen if members of Congress were subjected to the same scrutiny.
It turns out that drug testing benefit recipients was tried in Michigan a decade ago. Officials dropped the idea after an expensive and cumbersome process of screening 238 welfare applicants turned up only 21 who tested positive for drugs (all but three of them for smoking pot).
Reid and the Democrats must stage a high-profile public debate that puts every member of Congress on the record about whether it makes sense to fill the nation's homeless shelters and welfare offices with millions who are ready, willing and able to get back to work, resume paying taxes and get about the business of lifting the nation out of recession.