GOP Class Warriors Are Determined To Block Extension Of Unemployment Benefits
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DownWithTyranny!: GOP Class Warriors Are Determined To Block Extension Of Unemployment
GOP Class Warriors Are Determined To Block Extension Of Unemployment Benefits>
Here at DWT, once we saw Patty Murray and the Senate Dems sacrifice the working poor to the
voracious appetite of conservative predators in their shameful compromise with Paul Ryan, we
amped up our coverage of the Republican War on the Poor and the Republicans' latest advances in
the highly effective class war they've been fighting against America's working families for decades.
This isn't just about cutting food stamps, refusing the raise the minimum wage, repealing health
insurance for poor families and refusing the extend unemployment insurance for workers thrown out
of their jobs because of GOP economic policies. Those are the specifics of their economic agenda-- a
virtual Republican war against America-- but it is the GOP determination to use the House and ti use
archaic Senate rules to shred the social contract and push the country towards civil strife that they
hope will help them establish an anti-democratic, even fascist state. And this isn't just about John
Boehner. This is about every Republican and, in supporting roles, every conservative Democrat. This
is the economic and political elites against America.
No doubt, you're aware that as early as Monday, Senate Democrats-- ashamed that they didn't hold
firm when Murray surrendered to Paul Ryan in the budget "compromise"-- will make a half-assed
attempt to extend unemployment benefits for another 3 months. 1.3 million people were kicked off
their insurance last week. One Democrat, Jack Reed, and one Republican, Dean Heller, senators
from the two states with the highest unemployment numbers, respectively Rhode Island and Nevada,
are pushing the extension. It looks like Reed has rounded up every Democrat in the Senate to vote
for it. And it looks like Heller has rounded up... not even the low hanging fruit like Susan Collins (RME), Mark Kirk (R-IL) or Republican senators from states with very high unemployment-- Arizona,
Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia.
In Maine, 3,300 unemployed workers lost their benefits last week and unless this bill passes, another
8,900 will lose their benefits before July. Collins is up for reelection in November. In Illinois, the
problem is far more desperate. 81,867 unemployed workers lost their benefits last week and unless
this bill passes, another 89,100 will lose their benefits before July. Heller was counting on Mark Kirk
to help pass this. Kirk, like Collins, may get on board-- but has been noncommittal so far. Similar
story in Ohio, where39,100 unemployed workers lost their benefits last week and where another
48,800 will lose their benefits before July if the bill fails. Obviously, Sherrod Brown is firmly
committed to passage. Rob Portman is dragging his feet. Georgia has been badly hit and neither
senator has agreed to be part of the solution.54,400 unemployed workers lost their benefits last
week and another 57,100 will lose their benefits before July if the bill fails. Saxby Chambliss is
retiring anyone and has nothing to lose politically by doing the right thing, but he and Johnny
Isakson refuse to commit. Same story in Tennessee and Arizona. In Arizona, where the
unemployment rate is 8.3%, 17,100 people lost their benefits and another 22,500 will lose them by
July. In Tennessee, where the unemployment rate is an even steeper 8.5%, Lamar Alexander and Bob
Corker, have refused to get behind Heller, even though 19,500 Tennessee unemployed workers have
already lost their benefits and another 31,000 have their on the chopping block over the next 6
months. Heller also hoped he could persuade Pat Toomey (R-PA) but so far has been unable to even
though the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 7.7% and even though 73,330 people have lost
their benefits and another 92,900 are scheduled to.
Republicans say they're taking away benefits for the good of the workers themselves since it will
give the jobless a swift kick in the ass to go out and find a job .
Sen. Rand Paul thinks the long-term unemployed have had too much cake. That what they really
need is a swift kick in the you-know-what. And, in his compassion, he wants to give it to them.
It's about the incentives, Paul said yesterday on Fox News. If you pay people not to work, they won't.
And if you want them to work, you should stop paying them not to. So extended unemployment
benefits "do a disservice to workers, causing them to become part of this perpetually unemployed
group." (Emphasis added). In other words, we just have to stop coddling the jobless, and they'll find
jobs ... even though there are three of them for every opening.
Paul has the self-assurance of someone who doesn't realize the world is more complicated than Econ
101. Now, it's true that unemployment benefits make people stay unemployed for longer. They use
this lifeline to look for the best, and not necessarily the first, job they can find. But it's not true that
long-term benefits are causing long-term unemployment. It's (yes, here we go again) the economy,
...[T]his long-term unemployment trap has to do with our great recession, and not-so-great recovery.
With a labor market that doesn't work for people who made the mistake of losing their job at the
wrong time. If anything, unemployment benefits have kept people from giving up; remember, you
have to be actively looking for a job to qualify for them. The San Francisco Fed, for one, estimates
that unemployment would have been 0.4 percentage points lower without extended benefits, mostly
because more people would have stopped trying to find work.When Boehner speaks with the media,
he says House Republicans are "open" to extending unemployment benefits. But the concessions he's
demanding to even let proposals come to a vote would be even more devastating for working
families and many of his members say they don't care what he says anyway... they're just going to
screw unemployed workers no matter what it takes. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave
Camp (R-MI) is in a swingy district that Steve Israel has taken off the map. Camp knows he can do
whatever the hell he wants without having to worry about voters taking it out on him. And he's want
to cut unemployed workers lose once and for all. Many of the Republicans on his committee agree.
Even Dave Reichert (R-WA), who tries to pass himself off as a "moderate" (an odd feat for a rightwinger with a consistent and startlingly anti-working family voting record), says helping the
unemployed by extending benefits isn't something he's likely to back. He's in a blue-leaning district
where recent polls show him losing to Democrat Jason Ritchie in November. Steve Israel and the
DCCC have refused to target Reichert and refused-- at least so far-- to back Ritchie, a progressive
who refuses to swing with the kind of wretched corruption that Israel requires of his favored
candidates. Last week, the Seattle Times focused on the state's unemployment problem and on
Reichert's role by reminding readers that "only about a quarter of out-of-work Americans are
receiving unemployment benefits, the smallest share since such federal record-keeping began in
1950, according to the National Employment Law Project."
If the Reed-Heller bill passes and unemployment insurance is extended, nearly 4,000 jobs in
Washington state will be saved through the end of the year, where the current average weekly
benefit is $258.82, barely enough to survive on. The unemployment rate in the state is 7% and
24,414 workers were kicked off their benefits last week, while another 37,600 Washington
unemployed workers will lose their benefits before July. Reichert doesn't give a damn and the DCCC
isn't giving him a reason to give a damn.
Democrats want to make restoring the expired benefits a political priority as they return from the
holiday recess. Senate Democrats are scheduled to hold a vote on a three-month extension Monday.
Most Republicans oppose it. They say after nearly six years, the extended aid has lasted long enough
and shouldn't continue without further spending cuts to offset its $25 billion annual tab.
Of the 88 co-sponsors of the two bills in the House and the Senate to renew the emergency benefits,
only Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, which has the nation's highest unemployment rate with 9 percent,
is a Republican.
Sen. Patty Murray pushed to include extended unemployment aid in the budget agreement she
struck with Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin last month, but Republicans rebuffed it.
The partisan split comes as the nation continues to rebound from the Great Recession even while
millions of Americans who want to work can't find jobs. On top of the 10.9 million unemployed, 7.7
million have settled for part-time jobs when they'd rather work full time. Another 762,000 people
have given up job hunting altogether.
During the depth of the unemployment crisis in Washington, from November 2009 to April 2012, the
jobless qualified for up to 99 weeks of benefits. But those benefits have tapered off as the economy
The state's unemployment rate in November was 6.8 percent.
Rep. Dave Reichert, an Auburn Republican who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee,
which oversees tax issues, said through a spokeswoman that repeatedly renewing the emergency
benefits since they began in 2008 has greatly added to the deficit.
Not only that, Reichert said, the benefits have "stifled new job creation" by giving people a
disincentive to find work. He noted that unemployed people in Washington will still get 26 weeks of
state unemployment benefits funded by a tax on employers.
"There remains a safety net for those who have fallen on hard times. I will continue to work to make
sure they get that assistance," he said.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the spending power from
renewing 37 weeks of emergency benefits for a year would generate an estimated 200,000 full-time
jobs by fourth quarter of 2014 by stimulating demand for goods and services. Some job seekers may
slacken their search as a result. But negative effects would be modest, the CBO said, because any
available jobs likely would be claimed by someone not collecting jobless benefits.
Labels: class war, Dave Reichert, unemployment insurance
posted by DownWithTyranny @ 6:00 AM
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