Jobless Benefits Battle Holds Millions of Americans Hostage

In this July 2, 2010 photo, Mischelle Mitchell looks online for job listings at the at the Oakland Career Center in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

A group of mostly Republican lawmakers in the nation’s capital refuses to pass a bill that would reauthorize an extension of $33 billion in unemployment benefits. And in blocking the legislation during desperate times, they are holding 2.5 million Americans hostage, all for a political stunt. Those 2.5 million people are the chronically unemployed whose benefit checks ran out in May, and they’re hurting. And so are their families. Either these politicians in Congress do not understand the depths of people’s pain, or they simply don’t care.

As they seem to willfully ignore the plight of the unemployed, conservative Republicans would have us believe they are opposed to the extension of benefits because it will only add to the deficit and the national debt. Meanwhile, they have convinced themselves that the $1.6 trillion in tax cuts enacted under President Bush will magically pay for themselves. In the end, they would rather extend these tax cuts–which provide absolutely no help to the economy– rather than provide assistance to the unemployed, a measure which has been proven to stimulate economic growth.

david loveTo his credit, President Obama called them out for their filibustering. “A majority of Senators have tried not once, not twice, but three times to extend emergency relief on a temporary basis,” said Obama, surrounded by representatives from the ranks of the unemployed at the Rose Garden. “Each time a partisan minority in the Senate has used parliamentary maneuvers to block a vote denying millions of people who are out of work much needed relief. These leaders in the Senate who are advancing a misguided notion that emergency relief somehow discourages people from finding a job should talk to these folks. That attitude, I think, reflects a lack of faith in the American people.”

David A. Love

This article first appeared The Grio and is republished with permission.


  1. says

    EUC has traditionally been handled as emergency spending, because that’s what it is. If you take the money from other stimulus funds, then it’s like taking money out of your left pocket and putting it into your right pocket. The stimulus effect of that spending will be lost, and UC is the most stimulative form of spending you can do. Unemployed people spend their benefits in their local economy by buying food and paying rent. History proves this time and again,

    No, we need to spend more, short term, in order to get the economy moving again. We need a new, New Deal, and unfortunately, that means we’re going to grow the debt. We need the infrastructure projects anyway…our infrastructure is over fifty years old and is deteriorating. How about we rebuild the levies in New Orleans to make them stronger and able to withstand the worst hurricane? How about we upgrade our power-grid so we don’t suffer another brown out like we did in 2001? How about we invest in ultra high speed internet technology? There’s ways we can do this that will have a lasting impact on the country and help boost our economy as well.

    Yes, this will mean trillions more added to the debt, but that will get paid back over time as the economy grows. As people in public sector jobs spend their money in the economy, demand will increase and businesses will add jobs. This means a larger tax base to draw revenue from. If, in addition to this, we return to the same progressive tax policies in place under REPUBLICAN President Eisenhower, then the debt will be paid and the deficit slowly reduced.

    If we do nothing and go austerity crazy, then the economy will become much worse. What the deficit hawks don’t understand is that you can’t grow the economy when demand is in the toilet.

  2. Jay Levenberg,Esq. says

    They could easily have taken unspent stimulus money instead of increasing the debt. Our party must wake up and not assume the American people are idiots. In this case, the Republicans were correct to insist that the money come from existing funds. Our party won the publicity battle on this issue but it lost it’s sense of reality in just continuing to borrow more money that we don’t have. The other alternative is to raise taxes to pay for these benefits. The worst thing to do was to borrow more money.

  3. Mad Jayhawk says

    The Republicans are right. Fact is that extending the unemployment benefits, which everyone wants to do, will add to the deficit. The Democrats are playing politics with the issue. The Dems have Pay-go that they touted as their example of their new found devotion to fiscal responsibility and are choosing to ignore it in favor of beating up on the mean cruel nasty Republicans who do not care about: the famous ‘average hardworking unemployed American’. All the Democrats have to do find a few bucks in their huge out-of-control trillion dollar ‘budget’ they recently didn’t debate and deemed as being passed to pay for extending the unemployment as they promised when they came up with the joke known as Pay-go. In addition to that there have been quite a few Democrats who have said that the current number of months we, the tax payers, pay for unemployment is long enough. Those Democrats of course have gone into very deep hiding now. So all the Democrats have to do is pay for the extension as they promised to do and the Republicans will vote for it. They all should quit playing politics since it looks like all of Obama’s stimulus spending is a terrible failure and these folks need some more help. Now it looks like benefits will eventually extended out to 576 months – until 2012 to cover Obama’s entire term. Oh yes, it is George Bush’s fault and because the Tea Party is racist. The DNC wants you to to be sure to mention those things.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *