Tuesday, October 06, 2009

MN-03 : Paulsen Joins Minority to Oppose Workers

Country First !
That was the message at the Republican National Convention held in Erik Paulsen’s back yard … yet, he seems to have rejected that idea.
The concept was simply expressed as putting the good of the Country ahead of personal ideology, state, or partisan interests.

No doubt that there many stark difference between the political parties and those differences are on display when roll call votes reflect party line votes.
But it’s the measure of “Country First” when a majority of both parties approve legislation.
But what stands out is when somebody stays in the minority to their party.
Increasingly, that is where voters will find Erik Paulsen.

Case in point … on Roll Call Vote 722 : Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009 a majority of Republicans (104) voted in favor of the legislation while sitting in the minority was Erik Paulsen.
A year earlier, when similar legislation was being considered (Roll Call 683 :Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2008) , Minnesota’s Third District was represented by someone else … Republican Jim Ramstad … who joined with 141 other Republicans to approve it.

Representative Paulsen is well aware of the national employment situation as he wrote on his 10/2/09 blog entry : “U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report of an increase in the unemployment rate to 9.8 percent – a 26-year high – is bad news for American workers and their families. The U.S. lost another 263,000 jobs in September and 5.4 million workers have now been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer.

Looking at our state, about 120,300 Minnesotans lost jobs and went on unemployment from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31 while an estimated 1,000 people currently exhaust unemployment benefits each week, said Dan McElroy, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). State figures show that for every job vacancy, there are 7.7 people looking for work.

Representative Paulsen knows the problem exists.
Representative Paulsen believes that jobs must be created.
Representative Paulsen misses the point that to create jobs, demand … customer demand must be there … but too many people are curtailing demands because they are working less hours, are in fear of losing their jobs, or do not have jobs. The simple fact is that businesses want customers ... and after they get customers, then they will rehire.
The need is now … people want to work … but if there is an oversupply of workers, does the Country want to encourage more foreclosures, more people scrimping on healthcare needs, and draining food shelves ?

When the question of extended unemployment benefits was being voted on in 2008, it was cited that “Extending unemployment benefits has the potential to help the entire American economy. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it is one of the most cost-effective and fast-acting ways to stimulate the economy because the money is spent quickly. For every $1 spent on unemployment benefits generates $1.64 in new economic demand.”
Denying extension of benefits actually hurts the country.
At that time, the complaint was about Republicans John Kline (MN-02) and Michelle Bachmann (MN-06)] and their failure to support this increase … now Erik Paulsen has joined the minority.
As pointed out in that commentary, the Federal Unemployment Tax Trust Fund is over-funded … these funds were saved for this rainy day. Business paid into the fund, so that if there would be a downturn, that their workers could get some money to pay for basic needs … and keep local businesses going.

In the past, Representative John Kline has said federal unemployment benefits are needed only when there are desperate economic conditions … well, Represenative Kline acknowledged on February 13, 2009 that “our nation facing economic distress” as evident by Le Sueur County unemployment rising to 10.1 percent. Yep, in case you were wondering, Representatives Kline and Bachmann voted again against this extension.

Why ?

Let’s look at what Country First is supposed to preclude : personal ideology, state, or partisan interests.

First, Representative Paulsen voices a personal ideology of government spending needs to be curtailed … okay, but these funds are coming from an overfunded FUT Trust Fund. Representative Paulson can fall on the old line that “such assistance threatens to stem the economic upturn” if businesses have to pay higher taxes, but since the monies are already in the FUT Trust Fund, that argument is invalid. Representative Paulsen’s opposition may please a segment of the Republican faithful, thus his opposition may be more to ensure that he does not have a primary challenger from within his party.
Representative Paulsen fails on this test putting his personal ideology (and self-interest) over Country First.

Second, it is true that “today”, only 22 states will benefit from this extension and Minnesota is not one. And that is why this is good legislation … there is a high threshold … helping only those states that really need it now … but the forecast is that Minnesota will soon be in that group. Also, when Federal benefits cease, there is an impact on state resources.
Representative Paulsen fails on this test putting his state over Country First.

Third, partisan interests does not apply as a majority of Republicans supported these extensions.
Representative Paulsen fails on this test.

In my view, Representative Paulsen is not putting Country First … much less his constituents and makes me appreciate more how great a Congressman Jim Ramstad was.

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