It’s Time to Put America First

Earlier today, the Senate and the House passed a bill that would give the new government in Ukraine $1 billion in loans and $100 million in direct aid. Today’s vote came just a day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he would drop controversial IMF reforms from the Ukraine aid bill, guaranteeing Republican support. Ukraine’s new government has been in power a little over a month, and now it’s secured itself a nice little lifeline from Washington. That was fast.

Meanwhile, more than 2 million jobless Americans are still struggling to pay their bills after losing their unemployment benefits three months ago at the end of December. Sure, a group of Senators have agreed to a plan to extend unemployment benefits by another five months, but there’s really no guarantee that Republicans in the House will, you know, do their job and pass that extension.

Those Republicans are apparently all for forking over billions of dollars to an unelected government in Ukraine, but when it comes to helping out unemployed Americans, they’re suddenly up in arms screaming about the debt and the deficit. If you think this is insane, you’re not alone.

If Republicans in Congress were as committed to helping out Americans as they are to helping out the Ukrainian government, they would have extended unemployment insurance months ago. But instead, they’ve blocked extension at every chance they’ve had. And, of course there’s still a very good chance that they’ll block it once again when it comes up for a vote sometime in the next few weeks.

Republican obstruction looks even more ridiculous when you remember that those 2 million jobless people who are still without benefits paid into the unemployment insurance throughout their adult working lives. By refusing unemployment insurance, Republicans, have, in effect, said to 2 million Americans, “No, you can’t have your money back.”

Congress’ schizophrenic attitude towards Ukraine aid and jobless benefits is just one example of much bigger sickness festering in our political system right now. When it comes to helping out giant transnational corporations, the military-industrial complex, or America’s foreign policy interests, Congress will do their bidding at the drop of a hat. But when it comes to helping out every day Americans by doing things like extending unemployment benefits, suddenly Congress can’t do its job and there’s gridlock.

Former GOP congressional staffer Mike Lofgren talked about this on a recent episode of “Moyers & Company,” pointing out that this gridlock helps keep what he called America’s “deep state” in power. The preamble to our Constitution does not say that our government exists to promote the “general Welfare” of private corporations, standing armies, foreign governments, or Ukrainians. The preamble to our Constitution says that our government exists to promote the “general Welfare” of “We the People.”

It’s time for our elected representatives to start following the principles laid out in our Constitution and help everyday Americans struggling to make ends meet. A great first step would be to extend unemployment insurance right away. But one piece of legislation isn’t enough. In the long term, Congress needs to totally rethink its priorities and start, as Merle Haggard says, putting America first.


Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 36 weeks ago

Marc, I hate to nitpick but you've misspelled your hero's last name. It's "Davie" not "Davies" without he "s'. - AIW

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 36 weeks ago

DAnneMarc: Here's a photo of the Buckaroo along with the cast of The Little Rascals.

The day Jack London sailed from the foot of Broadway for his South Pacific adventure aboard the "Snark" [picture].

Mark Twain at Piedmont White Sulphur Springs, Oakland Calif. 1867

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 36 weeks ago
Quote Palindromedary:Although it is considered "stateless" it has members from Saudi Arabia and is largely funded by Saudi Arabia (along with the US). Is it no wonder that some people believe that US insiders, Neocons, used their Al Qaeda freedom fighters to help them create the false flag that was 9/11?

Palindromedary ~ Surely you mean "some people believe otherwise..." At least most of the people I know don't buy that 911 terrorist nonsense anymore. Most either outright believe that the Bush administration was behind the whole thing; or, it was a secret black op by one of our secret branches of government. Considering how much Bush himself lied, aided and abetted the entire crime--from whisking off the Bin Laden family out of the country during a no fly order, to lying about seeing the attack on TV--in my opinion anyone who still believes we were attacked by surprise from the outside is a good candidate to buy a bridge I'd like to sell. It comes at a great price with the standard feature of being imaginary and invisible.

Quote Palindromedary:And that's where most of our money goes to stir up violence in their attempt to rule the world...just like Hitler once had hoped. Through Operation PaperClip, Nazism live on in the US.

Absolutely true and well said! That statement also has the advantage of explaining all this nonsense. We have a government that is basically fascism on steroids.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 36 weeks ago

Aliceinwonderland ~ Thanks you so much for that correction. "Davie" not "Davies" The least one can do is spell their hero's name right.

Palindromedary ~ Thanks so much for all those photos and links. It is amazing how such a tough man can embrace the smallest of us. He certainly was supposed to be a man of the people.

By the way, I searched that old Oakland database and found a photo of Fruitvale Blvd. I lived there for over 10 years and can say it doesn't look at all the same. No more railroad track down the middle. I can safely say the street looks considerably more beautiful today than it did back then. Thanks again for the trip down nostalgia lane.

Loren Bliss's picture
Loren Bliss 8 years 36 weeks ago

Amazing thread, as always (that's why I always check back even after the thread has presumably died).

Though I often disagree with Mr. Hartmann's shamefully pro-Obama politics, I just as often find myself grateful to him for this outstanding website and the discussions it fosters.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 36 weeks ago

Wow Marc, Fruitvale Blvd sounds so familiar!

Marc, could you check out post #74 of the "Hope Dies Last" thread? (March 26) I'd really appreciate your thoughts on that. Kinda freaks me out. - AIW

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 36 weeks ago

Loren- for posterity's sake if nothing else, I just want you to know, I've occasionally been annoyed by Thom Hartmann's deference to President Obomba. It bugs me. - AIW

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 36 weeks ago

BMetclfe -- I hope you realize the reason we cannot spend money on all those good things you mention is because it will make that black man in the white house look good. That is the only reason. If you think it has anything to do with our debt please read about the Reinhart-Rogoff report used by the repugs.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 36 weeks ago
Quote John Pranke post #74 of March 26 thread:I am late to the conversation about your interview with Prof. McPherson. He is currently on the Mike Nowak Show on WCPT, Sunday, March 30. It sounds to me that his hypothesis on the coming extinction of humans will initially be triggerd by an economic collapse starting in the USA. It sounds realistic to me that a loss of an economic system could cause a shutdown of infrastructure that delivers things like water food and sanitation. If that were to happen things would go down hill for the majority pretty darn fast. Would people pull together or would society turn savage? I think a combination of both.

Aliceinwonderland ~ There are two precepts to this theory. The self imposed extinction effort of humans; and, whether people would turn savage rather then pull together.

First, these theories of intentional self imposed extinction are everywhere you look nowadays. They are easy for some people to believe because--in my humble opinion--our current society suffers from a group psychosis. Sometimes when we isolate ourselves from the world too much we lose touch on what is really going on out there. In reality, everything in their economic system and infrastructure is controlled by all of us--not just a few whack jobs at the top. The idea that anyone or any group can bring about such a catastrophe is not likely; and, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

Secondly, if some such disaster were to occur I am sure that people would instantly pull together on one level or another. After all, without the cooperation of each other, we are all doomed. Remember, fear is a paralysing and non productive emotion. The only thing we really have to fear, is fear itself. However, fear is a very useful tool for the few to control the many. Please don't be afraid--especially by a post from someone named "Prank (e)"

I hope you find that helpful.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 36 weeks ago

Aliceinwonderland ~ Of course Mr. Prank(e)'s post #80--in the same blog--makes some sense. However, even here I wouldn't lose any sleep if I were you. Climate change is something none of us can do much about at this point. The best we can hope for as a species is mitigating the effects. This should be everyone's main goal. Like the song say, "Whatever will be, will be. The future isn't ours to see." As long as we all do the best we can, when we can, I say, make hay while the sun shines, and let tomorrow take care of itself. That is why every chance I get I post this link:

This problem cannot be solved by anyone or any group. This is a planetary effort. Therefore go ahead and live each day like there is no tomorrow; and, have no regrets. There isn't a damn thing more you can do about it anyway. Why ruin the last few happy days we may have left panicking on a future catastrophe that may never happen? Life is too short, either way. We've said our peace. Now it's time for the rest of the planet to catch up.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 36 weeks ago

Thanks Marc. I appreciate the feedback. I think that in all the time I've been engaged with this forum, that was the scariest post I've seen. You're right, though; life's too short to be wasted on a perpetual state of panic. - AIW

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 36 weeks ago

Aliceinwonderland ~ You are most welcome!

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

Hello All

Today, we are closing Thom's blog in this space and moving to a new home.

Please follow us across to - this will be the only place going forward to read Thom's blog posts and articles.

From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"With the ever-growing influence of corporate CEOs and their right-wing allies in all aspects of American life, Hartmann’s work is more relevant than ever. Throughout his career, Hartmann has spoken compellingly about the value of people-centered democracy and the challenges that millions of ordinary Americans face today as a result of a dogma dedicated to putting profit above all else. This collection is a rousing call for Americans to work together and put people first again."
Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Thom Hartmann channels the best of the American Founders with voice and pen. His deep attachment to a democratic civil society is just the medicine America needs."
Tom Hayden, author of The Long Sixties and director, Peace and Justice Resource Center.
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Thom Hartmann is a literary descendent of Ben Franklin and Tom Paine. His unflinching observations and deep passion inspire us to explore contemporary culture, politics, and economics; challenge us to face the facts of the societies we are creating; and empower us to demand a better world for our children and grandchildren."
John Perkins, author of the New York Times bestselling book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man