When the extension of unemployment benefits squeaked through the Senate, there was a sigh of relief among those in need, and cheers from Democrats who have not been able to move the unemployment needle or restore confidence in the economy.
Putting money in the hands of wannabe consumers will create some bounce, but it doesn’t deal with the deep structural and systemic problems that worry economists and governments worldwide.
What they see are 800 insolvent banks, industries shrinking, state and local governments on the verge of bankruptcy and escalating debt. They see China rising and the West sinking. What do you see?
A million foreclosures are expected this year while in the know writers like Paul Krugman warn of stagnation and a creeping depression. Others say a double dip recession is already here. Shrill partisan voices make it hard for the public to focus on any solutions. So there is still no jobs bill – with Senate Democrats punting on those provisions in the legislation set to extend unemployment benefits and despite another bill seeking Local Jobs For America, languishing in Congressional Committees.
So far, only a few brave voices are calling for major cutbacks in defense or inflated intelligence spending as the wars we cannot win continue to drain us like those knives that leave a thousand cuts.
The fear merchants are doing their thing too—with more alarmism about the release of the alleged Lockerbie bomber who most who studied the case believe was falsely convicted in the first place. And then, there’s the hysteria about building a mosque near Ground Zero—the implication: Osama Bin Laden is leaving his cave and moving next door….
Meanwhile, the unfinished business of financial reform dwarfs what’s been passed. It looks like slippery Timmy Geithner and company want to block Elizabeth Warren from running the new consumer protection bureau that she led the fight for. Bank lobbyists are on overdrive to find ways to get around the law and stage a backlash.
Many banks are still considered too big to fail but not too big to jail. There is no pressure from progressives for the prosecution of Wall Street criminals, as I call for in my film Plunder: The Crime of our Time.
So, by all means, let’s be grateful for small victories, but we can’t substitute symbolic steps with a real recovery that, every day, looks further and further away.
I’m Danny Schechter your News Dissector for GRIT TV.