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(c) by Mary Griggs

I don’t think I’ve ever been as happy to see someone bomb on the national stage. Last night’s Republican response to Obama’s speech was delivered by Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal.

He is considered by many to be the great hope to put against Obama in the next presidential election. Instead, his over-rehearsed delivery of a bunch of tired old arguments was incredibly disappointing to those kingmakers. All of the items that he suggested have been tried to one degree or another over the past 8 years – and they were also soundly rejected at the ballot box at the last election.

I think his closing was very good, he owned up to the actions by the Republicans that led us to our current dilemna. The problem is that the Republicans are still advocating for the failed policies that led us to where we find ourselves today. With 5.5% and growing unemployment in our state, he should realize that increasing funding and the option of extending unemployment benefits for a few months and a few dollars per week would actually help thousands of Louisiana citizens.

For example, there was a New York Times Editorial entitled
What Part of ‘Stimulus’ Don’t They Get? on February 23, where the Editorial board did some research into this matter and found that while there are strings attached to these dollars, they would only apply to a small number of states who have not modernized and improved their unemployment programs. I’ve quoted portions of it here:

“The Republican Party’s attacks on the unemployment insurance portion of the stimulus package are a perfect example. States that accept the stimulus money aimed at the unemployed are required to abide by new federal rules that extend unemployment protections to low-income workers and others who were often shorted or shut out of compensation. This law did not just materialize out of nowhere. It codified positive changes that have already taken place in at least half the states.

“To qualify for the first one-third of federal aid, the states need to fix arcane eligibility requirements that exclude far too many low-income workers. To qualify for the rest of the aid, states have to choose from a menu of options that include extending benefits to part-time workers or those who leave their jobs for urgent family reasons, like domestic violence or gravely ill children. ”

They close with: “The governors are blowing smoke when they suggest that the federal unemployment aid would lead directly to new state taxes. No one knows what the economic climate will be when the federal aid has been used up several years from now. But by dumping billions of dollars into shrinking state unemployment funds, which puts money into the hands of people who spend it immediately on food and shelter, the stimulus could help the states through the recession and into a time when unemployment trust funds can be replenished. In other words, the stimulus could make a tax increase less likely.

“But even if new taxes are required at some point, the new federal standards would protect more unemployed workers than ever before and bring states like Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas into the 21st century.

“Governors like Mr. Jindal should be worrying about how to end this recession while helping constituents feed and house their families – not about finding ways to revive tired election-year arguments about big spending versus small government.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.