When Your Job Becomes a Political Football in the Game of Federal Aid
It's bad enough when you face losing your job. It becomes even worse when saving your job gets caught up in the ever-acrimonious fight between Republicans and Democrats in Washington.
Lawmakers in Washington just passed a new round of federal aid that will go to state governments to save the jobs of teachers, firefighters, policemen and other civil service workers. That is great news for literally hundreds-of-thousands of civil servants, But, it led to a political fight in which one of the top Republicans, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), referred to the money to keep these workers employed as "a pay-off to union bosses and liberal special interests."
That set off a flurry of criticism from Democrats and from teachers groups, who put together this video response:
To be fair, there are some liberal groups that opposed the bill because of cuts in other social services. The $26 billion price tag of the bill is offset with other budget cuts and tax increases, including $12 billion in cuts to the food stamps program beginning 4 years from now. Democrats in the House say they will make sure those cuts are eventually restored. In the end, the bill passed on Tuesday.
No recourse at state and local levels
State and local governments are hurting because of the downturn in the economy that has caused a huge drop in property taxes and sales taxes. Unlike the federal government, states and cities can't print money -- they can only spend what they take in or, in some cases, borrow money, which leads to more problems down the line.
There are some who would argue that unions representing teachers, police and other public service workers should make more concessions to help save jobs; and, honestly, that is probably true. But concessions probably wouldn't save the hundreds of thousands of jobs that would have been lost.
I could go out and talk to teachers or policemen about how they feel, but I can speak from personal experience. My youngest son has struggled with some learning disabilities. During the past two years, thanks to the help of some wonderful public school teachers and therapists, he has made incredible strides. I don't know what we would have done if not for their help. These are the kinds of people who faced losing their jobs -- and that, to me, is unthinkable.
It's affecting real people
I have also seen the police department in my town be forced to cut jobs -- and that is not a great feeling when it comes to the safety and welfare of my community.
I find it hard to believe that America's middle class has been turned into a political football, but that seems to be what is happening.
If you want to see the faces of people struggling, I can recommend a couple of places to look. Check out a new section on the Huffington Post called Third World America
And check out a recent 'Dateline NBC' show done by Ann Curry called America Now: Friends and Neighbors that explores everyday people trying to survive in Southern Ohio (Rep. John Boehner's home state).