The Grinch factor
Despite a lack of jobs, House Republicans are booting millions off unemployment
In December, the Grinch stole Christmas from more than a million people and then went home to celebrate.
There are, on average, at least three people vying for every available job these days, such that it is impossible for every unemployed person to find work. Despite that grim reality, just before leaving for their Christmas break, House Republicans refused to renew expiring federal jobless benefits, ending those benefits for 1.3 million unemployed Americans.
Another 1.9 million people will discover, when their state-funded benefits run out in the coming six months, that they too won’t be eligible for federal benefits, and ditto for another 1.6 million in the second half of 2014. Not only will this inflict economic pain on out-of-work Americans, it will also harm the still-struggling economy by removing a significant amount of economic activity.
Understand that federal benefits kicked in only when state benefits ended, after 26 weeks, and were available only in states with high levels of unemployment. On average, they provided another 29 weeks of benefits.
Republicans argue that cutting benefits will spur people to get up off the couch and look for work. But that ignores the lack of jobs. Most unemployed desperately want to find work, but the jobs just aren’t there.
Two senators, Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) and Dean Heller (R-Nevada), have authored a proposal to extend emergency unemployment benefits for three months. The Senate is likely to vote on the bill early this month, after its members return from their break. President Obama has said he will push Congress to act quickly to pass it, but that will require House Republicans to cooperate, something they have done rarely this term.
Contact Rep. Doug LaMalfa (www.lamalfa.house.gov) and let him know it’s too early to kick people off unemployment.