At the end of the 2010 Congressional lame duck session, Democrats gave Republicans an extension of the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthiest in order to keep in place long term unemployment benefits for the millions in the nation who relied on checks to feed their families or keep a roof over their heads while they looked for work.
Now, a few years later, they may be going by the wayside
According to the New York Times, “The checks are stopping for the people who have the most difficulty finding work: the long-term unemployed. More than five million people have been out of work for longer than half a year. Federal benefit extensions, which supplemented state funds for payments up to 99 weeks, were intended to tide over the unemployed until the job market improved. In February, when the program was set to expire, Congress renewed it, but also phased in a reduction of the number of weeks of extended aid and effectively made it more difficult for states to qualify for the maximum aid. Since then, the jobless in 23 states have lost up to five monthsí worth of benefits.”
Now that the unemployment rate has stabilized, politicians argue, there is no reason to keep the extensions.† If the unemployment rate isn’t increasing it must be easier to find a job.† But that doesn’t take into factor the myriad of issues that feed into the lower rate — that people are taking lesser paying jobs rather than holding out for ones that they are best qualified for or are in their industry, that many are leaving the workforce all together via early retirement, or that some are just giving up all together.
Even if the unemployment rate had dropped in half, what good does that do for the person who can’t find a job?† Cutting off benefits doesn’t make a person magically have a job.† It simply forces them to find another means to make ends meet — sell off every asset, apply for food stamps, beg from families.
Unemployment benefits are being cut in the name of a recovering economy. Yet the tax cuts for millionaires?† Those haven’t been touched, and Republicans want to make them a permanent part of the tax code.† No discussion of sunsetting those out once the economy shows signs of recovery.
Talk about a double standard.
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