Thursday, January 2, 2014

Congress to the Unemployed: Eat Confetti

Amy Goodman
Is this really how we want to start the new year, by denying unemployment benefits to more than a million Americans who have lost their jobs? The bipartisan budget agreement passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama protects military spending, but promises to throw the most desperate in our economy into increased financial hardship, thrusting hundreds of thousands of families beneath the poverty line. The long-term unemployment rate is at the highest it has been since World War II, while the percentage of those receiving the benefits is at its historic low.

Meanwhile, Wall Street bankers are popping the corks, celebrating a banner year for the stock market. As brokers await their bonuses, many more of the unemployed will head for the breadlines.(AP)

“This is the wrong thing to happen at the wrong time for our economy,” Imara Jones told me. He is the economic justice contributor for, and served in the Clinton White House, where he worked on international trade policy. “Jobless benefits are actually stimulative to the economy,” he said. “Every $1 we provide to someone of unemployment benefits yields $1.60 in economic activity. And that’s why the loss of these benefits is going to rob our economy of $41 billion.” People living on the edge financially spend what they have to get by. Those in the top echelons of our economy, the top 1 percent, can take their income and hold on to it, or stash it away into an offshore account.

The unemployment-insurance program traditionally granted 26 weeks of replacement pay for workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. The extended benefits, signed into law by President George W. Bush, lengthened the time period to up to 99 weeks. Benefits average just $300 a week. According to The Washington Post, the average job search lasts 35 weeks, so the current 26-week benefit will create added stress on families already struggling.

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