There's something obscene about money in politics. Or maybe it's absurd. Or perhaps both. Whatever you call it, it can definitely be cruel.
Yesterday, Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick's campaign wrapped up a week of gloating over the amount of money they've tallied for the quarter by sending out this tweet:
RT @FECTweets: ID 01: Raul Labrador (R) raises $102k, has $69k on hand. Rep. Walt Minnick has $1.14m in the bank.
It was definitely "an exciting week for Walt," as he notes on his campaign website, posting receipts of over $410,000 for the April through June reporting period, "his best this cycle by far," reported CQ Politics.
It was also exciting, but in a whole 'nother way, for the estimated 800 to 1,200 additional out of work Idahoans whose unemployment benefits expired this week. Wondering how you're going to keep a roof over your head and feed your family is a whole different sort of exciting than a politician's eye-popping fundraising numbers--and not the good sort of exciting.
More than 5,500 jobless Idahoans have exhausted their unemployment benefits since early June and the Idaho Department of Labor estimates that an additional 800 to 1,200 unemployed Idahoans per week will find themselves with few places to turn as their benefits expire as well. It's estimated that 22,000 unemployed Idaho workers could see their benefits cut off over the next several months if the U.S. Senate doesn't pass legislation extending them.
The House of Representatives passed an unemployment extension before leaving for the Independence Day break, but the legislation stalled in the Senate with Republicans successfully blocking any attempt to vote on the extension, saying it would add to the deficit. The Idaho delegation was unanimous in their opposition--Senators Crapo and Risch voting against cloture and Reps. Simpson and Minnick voting against the House bill. Senate Democrats expect to have enough votes to overcome the GOP filibuster next week.
Fascinating that after years of unfunded tax cuts benefiting the rich and deficit spending on two wars, Republicans are dusting off their "fiscal restraint" suits just in time to snatch the safety net out from under the poor and working class. But they aren't the only ones doing the snatching.
Just one week after voting against extending the safety net for struggling families, Walt Minnick leaked word of his "impressive" fundraising quarter--$410,000 raised for the quarter and $1.14 million cash on hand. Something tells me that that money didn't come from families struggling to make ends meet on an unemployment check. But with each receiving an average of $229 per week--and that money being pumped back into the Idaho economy to the tune of $7 million a week--$410,000 could have kept almost 1,800 Idaho families afloat for another week; for $1.14 million, nearly 5,000.
There's something particularly cruel about tallying up your largess while telling others they aren't worth the $229 a week investment. It could also be obscene. Or absurd.