Posts Tagged ‘joblessness’


Republicans and Democrats Both to Blame for Expiration of Unemployment Benefits


For being the party all about the “real” Americans, it strikes me as odd that they’d be more worried about tax cuts that affect the top 1% of Americans who are doing just fine financially rather than look out for the middle class nearly 10% who are unemployed and have been for up to two years.

But, that’s just what the Republicans are doing: focusing on the things that make for good soundbites.

Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:

“I think the one thing we clearly agreed on is that first, that we ought to resolve what the tax rates are going to be for the American people beginning next year.”

Clearly more important than making sure that 2 million unemployed Americans can make ends meet in the aftermath of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.  Remember that if the tax cuts expire, they go back to the rates that they were in the 1990s: not exactly a crushing time of economic repression.

It’s not all the Republicans’ fault, though.  The Democrats continue their ineptitude:

When asked why Democrats didn’t bring [unemployment insurance extension] up on the Senate floor, [Senator Dick] Durbin said they didn’t have the votes.

“It needs to be part of a package to attract Republican votes, and we found the last time around, I think, we had two Republican votes — that wouldn’t be enough,” he said.

Seriously?  You’re the party that is supposed to truly be for the middle class.  You have a majority in the Senate (and not just during this lame duck session; you retained control into the next Congress, too!).  And you still can’t get the votes?  No wonder your compatriots in the House lost so many

Rep. Scott Brown (R) added his two cents, which sounds like they could have come from just about anyone on the right side of the political divide:

“Make no mistake, I agree that they need help, but I look at it as: Are we going to do it from the bank account, or are we going to put it on the credit card?”

It’s all the rage these days to point at the debt and deficit as an excuse to do nothing. But, the questions we should be asking and that our representatives should be as well are these:

  1. What happens if we don’t extend UI benefits?
  2. What are the alternatives if we don’t?

These 2 million Americans aren’t just going to magically find work simply because they aren’t getting their $400 a week safety net anymore.  The jobs aren’t there — private sector jobs went up by 93,000 last month, which is great news and shows that we’re adding more and more jobs each month; but, it’s a fraction of the 2 million needed to help those currently in distress.  If they lose their benefits, they can’t pay rent, buy groceries, fill their cars with gas, buy modest gifts for their kids during the holidays, or pay their utilities.  You know: contributing to our consumer-based economy. Not only will those millions out of work feel the impact, so too will local businesses.

Again, these aren’t people who are just living off the government’s dime and coasting through life.  These are people who had jobs.  Most were making quite a bit more than what they’re getting now in unemployment checks.  This isn’t welfare; it’s a temporary extension of the unemployment benefits (for which these people paid into the system) to prop up the millions of Americans who fell on hard times during the Great Recession — many through no fault of their own.  These people aren’t lazy or lacking incentive to find jobs — trust me: I’ve known people in this situation and they were depressed that they hadn’t yet found work after so long.

When America shed 8 million jobs and has only regained 3 million — do the math.  To leave this people hanging out to dry would be a travesty both morally and financially.

Which brings me to my second question: if we don’t do this, then what’s the alternative?