No wonder some Washington politicians have been so loath to extend unemployment benefits. They don’t know what it’s like to be unable to find work for many months—and not just because they themselves have jobs. They work in the large metropolitan area with the nation’s lowest unemployment rate.
Jobless rates in the DC area have hovered between five and a half and six percent over the past year, as compared with a national rate of 9.8 percent. It’s the only major metropolitan area with a rate under 6 percent.
People like Tea Party queen Rep. Michele “Scrooge” Bachmann can complain all they want that the extended unemployment benefits won’t be paid for. Of course they won’t—and neither will the extended tax cuts the President has just negotiated with congressional Republicans, but you won’t hear the Scrooges mentioning how the cuts, too, will only put us further in the red. No—what these politicians are doing is holding the middle class and working people hostage in their efforts to win more benefits for the rich. As President Obama has said, “it’s tempting not to negotiate with hostage takers unless the hostage gets harmed.” And the hostage is indeed in harm’s way.