Thursday, December 02, 2010

Senate Republicans stop Unemployment Benefits

The Senate Republicans forced the unemployment benefits to expire Tuesday night. It's very sad because those people recieving the benefits depended on them as they could not get any work at all. Not everyone is as good off as they would like to be. The Republicans don't realize this.

I served in Americorps for a year and I was unable to secure any kind of a job in Chicago following my one year. Because I did VISTA and it's considered to be a volunteer position, I was not eligible for any kind of unemployment benefits while I tried to secure a job. Trust me, if I was I would have been better off financially until I got my feet back on the ground. Don't think for a minute that I enjoyed using food stamps because I certainly did not. I was glad that the government offers that as social welfare because otherwise, I would have starved to death. My family is middle class--they certainly did not have to money to financially support me outside of paying rent money. I'm very thankful for that. Hell, when one does Americorps, nine times out of ten, the money is gone before you even see it on the paycheck.

Back to what I am saying, Americans don't just save the benefit money, they put it right back into the economy. Thank G-d for that. Otherwise, more people would lose jobs as a result of decreased spending. Unfortunately, that is about to become a reality because of the Senate Republicans.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., took to the Senate floor Tuesday night to urge his colleagues to extend the benefits, but to no avail.

"Now it is time to govern. Now it is time to act. Now it is time to do what we have always done in a situation like this – to pass a promptly and timely extension of unemployment insurance benefits," Reed said. "Acting now is the right thing to do, the responsible thing to do, the wise economic thing to do."

He argued that the jobless benefits serve as an economic stimulus that is more effective than tax cuts for the wealthy, one of the Republicans' priorities during the lame-duck Congress.

But Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., objected to the Democrats' bid to move forward with the jobless benefits bill.

Brown said Democrats should have allowed more time to work on the bill, rather than taking a week-long break for the Thanksgiving holiday and spending the past few legislative days working on a food safety bill.[...]

The consequences of ending the extended benefits aren't entirely clear though most agree it could hurt the recovery. The Labor Department estimates that 635,000 people could lose all benefits by Dec. 11, with more than 1.6 million losing them by Christmas. The ripple effect, some argue, could be devastating.[...]

The unemployment bill, along with an extension of the Bush tax cuts, is among the hottest issues in the lame-duck session of Congress that began Monday. Some lawmakers argue that the nation simply can't afford the extension bill, which would cost the country another $12 billion, adding to a deficit that tops $13.7 trillion. The tax-cut extension could also cost $3.7 trillion over the next decade.

Unemployment insurance has for many decades provided about 26 weeks of benefits, but the current Congress has extended the benefit to 99 weeks in four separate bills.

"There will be no safety net in terms of greater job loss," Conti said. "If the program is not reauthorized by the end of the year, 2 million will prematurely lose benefits. It could lead to great homelessness. The ripple effect would be devastating."[...]

Though the country is coming out of its longest recession since the Great Depression, more than 14 million people are still unemployed or underemployed.

For each of those 14 million, the issue of unemployment benefits is extremely personal.[...]

A bill to extend unemployment benefits fell short, by 17 votes, of the two-thirds majority needed under a special rule to pass earlier this month. Growing concerns over adding to the deficit have left some members of Congress hesitant about the bill, which is estimated to cost $5 billion a month.

The real tragedy of failing to extend benefits would be the loss of an estimated $5 billion a month in spending that comes from the long-term unemployed, says Heidi Sierholz, an economist and labor market columnist for nonpartisan economic think tank Economic Policy Institute based in Washington, D.C.

"That's $5 billion that's yanked out of the economy every month," Sierholz says. "Each month, almost 1 percent of the GDP will be taken out of the economy if we don't extend benefits, and that's going to be a massive drag on growth."
A tragedy, indeed.

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