Congress Vote On Unemployment Benefit Extension: Says sorry, You’re On Your Own

November 19, 2010

(ChattahBox Op/Ed) – My intent today was to write about campaign finance reform and its necessity, but I am having to push that critical issue aside because I am red hot mad with the House of Representatives this morning and I cannot begin to understand why a vote yesterday extending the unemployment benefit for millions of Americans out of work that did not pass is the beginning of the end of not just a slow moving economy, but how that vote will further obliterate any small gains in employment, period.

The vote to extend the unemployment benefits until February 28, 2011 lost by the tally of 258-154 and with 275 votes needed for passage it is beyond any likelihood that the extension will pass if there is any effort to put it back before the House before they leave for the holidays.  As of November 30, 2010 the four million Americans who have been receiving these critical benefits will lose them.

The total cost of the bill is estimated $12.5 billion and with all due respect to those who are gainfully employed or those who only look at numbers and not at people, yesterday’s vote was the final nail in the economic coffin and will begin the process of crashing the fragile recovery just as it is gaining momentum.

Our economy is in the toilet because of George W. Bush and a Republican controlled Congress that for eight years took any responsible Clinton policy and dismantled it.  George W. Bush screwed this country over time and time again funding a massive government expansion and forced Democrats to fund a war that we are still funding with our tax dollars.  The Bush tax cuts, which will to be the topic of the day inside the Beltway today, have taken more billions of dollars out of the tax rolls, and the rules and regulations that govern the wealthiest Americans still favor them as middle class America continues to shrink and dwindle.

Here are some hard facts and this is what really gets me so freaking hot I can barely stand it.  Every unemployment check that is issued is immediately used for goods and staples in the households where the checks are delivered to.  Every penny of that unemployment money is crucial to that home.  Every person receiving an unemployment check has just been told through this vote that forget about Christmas and feeding your family, politics are more important than your survival.  And let me make this crystal clear, that unemployment check is about survival and nothing else.

In the 1970’s we saw a horrendous economy hit this country hard.  The average unemployed workers were afforded an opportunity to claim unemployment for an average of 65 weeks.  In this economy, we are now seeing benefits being offered up to 99 weeks, and the reason for that is simple.  There are not enough jobs for those seeking employment and it’s not getting better quickly enough and if you are going to tell me that we can’t just keep giving people this money infinitely, you may be wrong, very wrong.

I realize that the unemployment tab is high and that after the 26 weeks paid for by the state and then extension paid for by the federal government is staggering, it is also a dramatic reminder that America is suffering its worse ever job draught.

Worse yet, those that are receiving unemployment benefits are receiving but a small percentage of what their take home pay was before being let go by their employers.  And the idea that by continuing to provide unemployment benefits people are delaying their job search is ludicrous.  Ok, sure some people are taking advantage, but what percentage really?  According to the Department of Labor Statistics there are now more than 6.2 million long-term unemployed, defined as people out of work for more than 6 months.  The national unemployment rate currently stands at 9.6% and after we lose some seasonal jobs after the first of the year that number is guaranteed to increase once more.

Furthermore, a report by the Joint Economic Committee, a House-Senate panel said that ending the extended unemployment program will take $80 billion out of the economy and will be the cause of a loss of another 1 million jobs.

There is reality and then there is politics and they never really coexist well.  This morning millions of American families will not have a Christmas this year.  Millions of American families will now have to decide how to buy groceries.  Millions of Americans are panicking this morning to try to figure out how to make the house payment or how to buy needed medicine.  Millions of Americans are scared to death this morning because the lives they have worked so hard to attain to begin with are being further torn away from them and there is nothing they can do to stop it from happening.

Congress is forcing people into a downward spiral and pushing more people into assistance programs that are just about bankrupt as well.  Avenues for relief are vanishing as more and more people have to turn to community food pantries to put basic staples in their homes.   Foreclosures, already at record highs will continue to escalate.  Divorce rates will continue to climb, and your elected member of Congress is an accomplice to the degradation of the American way of life.

Yeah, I’m pissed off this morning and my heart aches for the men and women who have been shamed by their country and who are seen not as the infrastructure that has built this country, but as a number with a price tag we cannot afford anymore.

So for those of you who will take the position that we just can’t keep adding to the debt and we cannot enable the unemployed, sleep well knowing that as the heating bill increases and as the cost of living increases and as the number of living wage jobs decreases, you are personally doing OK, and as long as you’re good well, that’s good enough for you, because, hey, if you’re OK then we’re all OK, right?

My political instincts tell me that what the Republicans will do is say that they will pass an extension of unemployment benefits if the Democrats agree to extend the Bush tax cuts that they covet, and that probably is what will happen. But I guess being the liberal guy that I am I just want people to have a chance to breathe while they figure out how to regain their lives and at the same time help to put food on the table, if they haven’t sold the table yet to pay the heating bill.

Tony Trupiano is a former national syndicated progressive radio talk show host, author, and a former candidate for Congress. He is also a nationally recognized media trainer.  He can be reached at tony@mediatony.com and can read his Blog at www.mediatraining.me.


Comments

11 Responses to “Congress Vote On Unemployment Benefit Extension: Says sorry, You’re On Your Own”

  1. tcarr251 on November 19th, 2010 10:58 am

    Sad thing is, I had a bad feeling this was coming. I feel terrible for those losing that extension, because I’m almost in their shoes. I only worked 10 weeks this year, and that’s 10 weeks more than others have worked. This was the first time I ever had to be put on a extension, and I’m thankful that I’m blessed enough to have a new unemployment year coming, otherwise, I would be screwed. This year has just been brutal with these Republicans playing games with this issue. I’m so tired of them deceiving people and scaring them to get their votes by promising to repeal the health care bill, create new jobs, keep taxes lower, and I’m really tired of them deceiving those who consider themselves christian or conservative. I’m a christian myself, and I’m appalled by other christians who blindly follow these Republican liars! I’m glad that I voted straight Democrat at that election, because at least they’re willing to work with us.

    Those of you who vote Republican because of the tax issue, remember this. They’re not concerned about lowering your taxes, they’re concerned about lowering taxes of their friends and those corporations that back their political party. We’re peasants, yes, peasants to them, because they would rather help out the rich, than try to help our middle class survive by extending these unemployment benefits. They support things as right to work states, which means they’re fine with creating jobs, but you’re not going to work it for a living (prevailing) wage. They want that the same reason they’re accusing Democrats of having these government programs, to reduce the middle class and the rich will have even more control in this country. I wasn’t sure if they were going to screw people for Christmas, but now we know.

    I don’t know what others think, but for these Congress members that vote no on this vote, those of us going through this unemployment problem should try to find their main residence and should set up camp on their property. They want to put us out of our homes, so maybe they should open up theirs to take care of the American people that they’re working for! That’s my rant for the day.

  2. ppearson on November 19th, 2010 1:58 pm

    I will be 64 next month and have been on unemployment for over a year. I just started on my last tier of unemployment, but that is about to be cut off thanks to the Republicans. I don’t know why Thanksgiving and Christmas should be any different from the other holidays this year. It seems like every time this subject comes up for a vote Congress goes on vacation or holiday. The Fourth of July was a definite bust. This time I am afraid everything is going in the toilet. The Republicans only care about themselves and their wealthy friends. The economy is going to suffer at this holiday spending season.

  3. Trupiano on November 19th, 2010 3:05 pm

    My prayers are with all of you who are suffering needlessly. It’s a shame that we would treat each other this way to politicize such a critical issue at such a difficult time.

  4. M. D on November 19th, 2010 7:14 pm

    Have you looked at the label of your favorite pair of jeans?
    I did…the RALPH LAUREN blazer..made in Vietnam….LEVI jeans made in Mexico, China, etc…
    Where are the manufacturing jobs? I called customer service for my bank, the call center has been outsourced…where are the jobs?

    Just take a moment and look at each label on the clothing in your closet…anyy made in AMERICA???

  5. Eric on November 19th, 2010 9:30 pm

    How many people in each constituency are checked with to vote this way? Answer- NONE.
    This is really gone too far in this country. These people are to represent the people and not themselves. I have yet to go to any place where a representative opens a discussion to the public getting a nod. REALLY, WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE REPRESENTING? How many of them are blue collar people? NONE! NOT ONE…
    I vote- no confidence. Let’s push them all out and start over. This is our country.
    Instead of voting people in I want to vote them out. I don’t mean voting for the lesser of two evils I mean there should be a slot for “No Confidence” and if this is the majority then all of them go and new candidates come in. Honestly, these people calling themselves representatives do little for the majority and more for each other.

  6. Sheri on November 19th, 2010 10:43 pm

    Wow, I’m at a loss for words myself. I am a 43 yr old female who has worked since I was 17. I have never drawn any unemployment until last November when I lost my job (state job) due to the fine budget cuts from our government and now I am losing my unemployment by the same government who took my job.

  7. Lois Bradley on November 20th, 2010 2:22 am

    The Fox News spin: “Democrats fail to extend unemployment benefits”. Of course, never mentioning that all the Republicans voted AGAINST extending them. The ONLY thing they are going to vote FOR are tax cuts for the wealthy.

  8. Andrew Costa on November 20th, 2010 4:18 pm

    look, all of you. Big Business has sold My country down the river. Look at everything we buy. Not one frigin thing, not a baseball hat, not a plastic cup, or a
    sears suckered suit, is made in the great land we now here live. Look inside your wallet did you make any of that doe. Nope. Why? Ever been to China? I have
    but don’t feel u r left out. The air sucks, the water taste wet but really….big bizz has figured out to the 10th desimal how much profit they can squeeze out of every product for their stock holders or whoever at any cost. Their sence of how much is enough profit is enough profit. Lets bring our competitors standard of living up giving them the same pay we use to make by throwing on a teriff on all the products they we enjoy. bring back the jobs at the same level working ground
    an I’m not blowing smoke about the American worker out shining any other worker in the world. Big Business you are on my S–t list. you are greedy beyond
    anything I thought real bisiness person could ever be. Do you know what u have
    done? You are fools for putting the American between a rock and a soft spot.

  9. hsr0601 on November 21st, 2010 3:05 pm

    1. The rebs have chanted : Are you listening to American people ?
     
    The majority of Americans support the idea of extending unemployment benefits to the jobless, according to a poll out from Hart Research Associates.
    Nearly three-quarters of the 802 registered voters surveyed agreed that it was “too early to start cutting back benefits for workers who lost their jobs.”
     
    2. Are the reps listening to America people ?
     
    According to CNN polling, voters said that unemployment is roughly twice as important as all other top issues combined.
    Despite the fact that unemployment remains above nine percent, the incoming House majority has made it clear that jobs and unemployment are not at the top of their to-do list.
     
    3. Are the reps listening to the outcry from their conscience ?
     
    (a). The reps shipped decent-paying manufacturing jobs overseas to lower production costs and eliminated the need to comply with those pesky environmental laws.
     
    (b). The recession caused by the reps wiped out as many as 8.2 million jobs, but they don’t care !
     
    (c). Throwing people out into the streets in the cold this holiday season, the heartless, cold-blooded death panels are having a good night’s sleep.
     
    (d). Never before has Congress decided to cut-off extended unemployment benefits when the jobless rate was so high. And not since the 1930s have so many unemployed job-seekers been out-of-work for so long.
     
    (e). The 154 members who voted against the extension may find their principles are very costly indeed—far more than the $12.5 billion their yea votes would have cost.
     
    4. Are the reps listening to the various reports ?
     
    (a). Ending federal extensions would drain the economy of $80 billion of purchasing power, according to a report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee. Every dollar spent on benefits increases the gross domestic product by $1.60, the report said.
     
    “Workers receiving unemployment insurance payments are typically cash-strapped and will spend their benefits quickly,” the report said. They spend about $6.5 billion a month on the local economy to buy essentials such as food, clothing and utilities.
     
    “A failure to extend the unemployment insurance program could hamper the fragile recovery,” the report said. It predicts that consumer spending will fall by $50 billion over the next year if benefits are not extended, and that economic growth will be reduced by 0.4 percentage points by February 2011.
     
    (b). Bloomberg News reported that some economists estimate not passing an extension might result in the economy growing 0.4 percent less between December and February, a significant bite when GDP growth has been hovering in the anemic 2 percent rage
     
    (c). The CBO reports that the BEST WAY to spur growth is to increase aid to the unemployed. Other efficient ways to grow the economy is by investing in infrastructure and providing more aid to the states.
    The CBO also says that without extensions in 2009, the poverty rate might be 15.4 percent, more than a full point higher than it is.
     
    (d). A similar report from the California Budget Project said that unemployment benefits put $225 million into the nation’s economy every day in 2010.
     
    Some economists worry that if jobless workers keep receiving extensions, they will stop looking for work. But the dearth of jobs in the labor market makes that point moot, the California Budget Project said.
     
    “Cutting off federally supported unemployment insurance benefits would make unemployed workers more desperate to find work, but it would not make them more likely to find work, because jobs are scarce,” the report said.
     
    At a time when there are five unemployed workers for every available job, it seems inconceivable that these unemployment benefits would be allowed to expire.
     
    5. Are the reps listening to the denouncement over their duplicity, two standards ?
     
    (a). The Bush tax cut for the greedy without providing a way to pay for its costs will add an additional $700 billion to the deficit over a decade,
     
    (b). Republicans have trumpeted the need to extend huge tax breaks to the wealthy and to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Both actions would significantly increase our nation’s debt and lead us down the road to bankruptcy, another major concern for voters.
     
    (c). On the one hand they want to provide $700 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest, but not pay for them. On the other hand they demand that unemployment benefits for the middle class be paid for. It’s kind of like someone on a diet ordering a Diet Coke and a Big Mac simultaneously.
     
    (d). Back when Bush was pushing his tax cut packages through Congress in 2001 and 2003, supporters said the cuts (which weren’t balanced with spending reductions) would initiate an era in which the American economy would grow so robustly the nation would be running a surplus of more than $5 trillion at the scheduled expiration date. U.S. now runs a deficit of about $1.3 trillion
    In sharp contrast, Former President Bill Clinton left a record surplus, despite the warning of potential economic disaster over tax increase for the wealthiest.
     
    (e). Since the you-fix-the-deficit puzzle went online, there have been more than one million page views, and more than 11,000 posted Twitter messages about the puzzle, most including their own solution.
    The most popular option among all respondents? Reducing the military to less than its size before the Iraq war — included in about 80 percent of the solutions posted to Twitter.

  10. John55 on November 22nd, 2010 1:03 pm

    Its as clear as the nose on your face…

    Their attitude is…..

    I got mine…..F… You.

  11. Carol on December 3rd, 2010 6:25 pm

    OK, Let’s have a reality check:

    I am in my early 50’s often working 2-3 jobs my entire life to support myself. I have needed to draw in umeployment for the last year after I trained 8 people in another country to learn my job when corporate America came in, purchased our company and gave the executives millions in dollars in bonus money after they closed our office. (All of the employees lost their jobs.)

    The fact the Congress is so shorted in not approving the extensions is throughly disgusting but yet they want to push for more benefits for illegals? Maybe Congress should remember that they work for the US citizens. Jobs should be the number one priorty – not their pensions, not tax cuts for the rich, not approving foreign aid – FOCUS on US citizens that are unemployed. WE WANT TO WORK!

    By not extending benefits, Congress will successfully push this country into more foreclosures and bancruptcy. The US citizens are listening and we are disgusted with your behavior!

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