The as-yet-unnumbered Jobs, Opportunity, Benefits and Services Act of 2011, a Dave Camp/Orrin Hatch production, would let states play around with the unemployment benefits money they get from the federal government. In other words, states could fill holes in their budgets with the money instead of giving it to the unemployed folks who need it. And who'll spend it. And who'll help keep the economy afloat with it. You read this bill and I guess you're supposed to be impressed by all the hoops states will have to jump through to gain this "budgetary flexibility," but governments are full of folks for whom jumping through hoops -- or around them -- is second nature. This bill, which is already getting a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee tomorrow, violates the very principle of insurance -- insurance exists to help folks, who pay for it, when they get in a jam. Unemployedworkers.org urges all of us to go to this Ways and Means Committee hearing if we can. (And yes, I know the bill's title spells out the word JOBS. Though it's not as clumsy as Republicans' usual acronyms, it doesn't prove they really care about jobs, or even JOBS. They don't.)
Meanwhile, S. 489 (a Jack Reed production) and H.R. 1477 (an Elijah Cummings production) would fund the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) with $1 billion from the sale of bailout-related "warrants." I'll try not to botch explaining what a "warrant" is. Banks gave the U.S. Treasury Department "warrants" in exchange for all that taxpayer money; a warrant permits Treasury to purchase a share of stock at a specified price, which presumably gives some peace of mind to both issuer and holder. Treasury has made more than $8 billion selling these warrants to private investors -- hey, something good has to come of that damn bailout. The bills noted above would appropriate $1 billion of that money toward funding the NHTF, which helps folks avoid foreclosure through mediation and modification. The Coalition for Human Needs helps you call your Reps and Senators in support. Hard to see what would drive a Republican away from this effort -- it's paid for, and doesn't give handouts so much as streamline procedures and oversight. Oh, wait, I see what would drive a Republican away: it might help people who aren't CEOs.
Finally, 17-year-old Zack Kopplin started a petition on change.org opposing the Louisiana law that demands that science teachers teach creationism in science class, and now you can sign this petition, too. What's the problem, you ask? Creationism isn't science is the problem. Creationism can't be proven or disproven via the scientific method, and therefore has no place in a science class. What on earth would be wrong with teaching the debate over creationism and "Intelligent Design" in a social studies class? I suspect the problem would be that fundamentalists -- who are not part of the vast majority of religious folks who find religion and science perfectly compatible -- wouldn't get to impose their will on everyone else if creationism were taught in its proper place. Well, I don't live in a world where the loudest bellyachers get their way all the time. At least, that's my hope. And certainly, as a person of faith, I don't want school boards like the Livingston Parish school board to impose their faith on schoolkids, because that's the easy way out. Imposed faith is worthless. Faith must be earned.