Unemployment benefits extension for middle class Americans: $30 billion

Extending Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy: $678 billion

Watching Arizona Senator John Kyl attempt to explain why it’s ok to add to the deficit for the benefit of the rich, but not the poor: Pricele$$

To wit:

Top Senate Republican Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) insisted on Sunday that Congress should extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans regardless of their impact on the deficit, even as he and other Republicans are blocking unemployment insurance extensions over deficit concerns.

The expiring tax cuts were pushed through for the wealthy by the George W. Bush administration – one of the early “this $236 billion budget surplus is burning a hole in my pocket” expenditures of that great former President. Those tax cuts did nothing to preserve the budget surplus – a nice savings account that would have been really helpful when, say, declaring war on two different nations. 

The obvious absence of the Deficit Hawks during the spendthrift Bush era has been well noted – and their sudden resurgence smacked of hypocrisy. But until now, none of them were silly enough to lay bare their real agenda. Again, Senator Kyle, who has found a way to make himself more cynical, more hypocritical, and increasingly more like a character Stephen Colbert would dream up.

“You do need to offset the cost of increased spending, and that’s what Republicans object to. But you should never have to offset cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans.”

Yet while nearly every member all of Michigan’s congressional delegation voted to extend benefits for our legions of unemployed and their struggling families, one man couldn’t even be bothered to show up.

Representative and gubernatorial candidate Pete Hoekstra who skipped the all-important vote to attend a $250-a-head campaign fundraiser titled – wait for it – “On the Job for Michigan.”

So, for those keeping score, it’s ok to help the wealthiest 1%, even when it will contribute to our federal deficit. But it is not ok to help the middle class, because unemployment benefits also count as spending against the deficit.

Well, at least they’ve got their priorities straight.

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