Thousands of unemployed Americans got a form letter from Congress last week:
“Dear Unemployed American: Your benefits have run their course. Sorry about that. We realize that this is the worst economy in decades and you might think we helped make it the way it is. But extending your benefits might give the impression that we are helping the less fortunate; our job description is to help the fortunate. As always, know that we are committed first to making Barack Obama a one-term president. Catch you later.”
This is not exactly the letter Evie Garza received from her congressman, but it was every bit as galling.
Garza, an Austin resident, wrote me to say that she was ready to take to the streets along with protesters in the Occupy movement.
“I’m ready to protest, because I feel powerless.”
Excuse her for feeling idealistic about contacting her congressmen — Republicans John Carter and Mike Conaway. She really thought that if she told them what motivated her, they’d be touched, and maybe less recalcitrant about working with the president to create jobs.
The reason: She sent pictures of both congressmen shaking hands with her son at Camp Liberty in in Iraq. That’s a pretty personal message.
“I wrote to tell them that they should pass the jobs bill, especially for the soldiers who are transitioning to civilian life.”
She got a form letter back from Carter. “It listed why he’s against the jobs bill, no surprise, but I was surprised that he didn’t thank our family for my son’s six years in the military.”
Welcome, back, servicemen and women. You just drove up the nation’s unemployment rate. Ah, hah: something else to pin on Obama.
Those returning service personnel — and hooray for their return — might not understand what has prevented Congress from doing a thing to make things better for them on the homeland.
The whole thing is about resisting any means of raising extra revenue. With tea party patriots providing marching orders, Republicans say that Washington has enough money and needs no more. They say this in the face of a $15 trillion national debt that these veterans and their children and grandchildren will have to resolve.
It is revealing that even Congressman Paul Ryan, budget wunderkind, he of the allegedly visionary deficit plan, admits that down the road the nation would have to raise taxes in some way under his plan. Not now, of course. That would constitute sacrifice. Only our nation’s fighting forces are in line for that.
If the Republican Congress really wanted to do something to help the nation’s unemployed, it would have done it, because President Obama has given it every opportunity. What it wants to do is posture to its core constituency, which, by review, is not unemployed.
Evie Garza tried to lodge her concerns the traditional way, the time-honored way.
“That’s powerlessness, being told all your life to write your congressmen, and when you do, you get a form robo-signed letter that doesn’t acknowledge anything personal that might have been addressed in the letter.”
When I search for actual contributions to the common good by this, the do-nothing 102nd Congress, Google delivered me by accident to the deeds of 102nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron in World War II.
These dog faces tramped around godforsaken spots of Europe after landing on Omaha Beach. The horror and heroism of D-Day was just the beginning for them. They got the job done. They came home to a supportive nation.
How many of those returning from war this time will be greeted by form letters from leaders who were too committed to their partisan pursuits to make things more hospitable at home?
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: email@example.com.