So much attention is being paid to the payroll tax portion of the standoff in Congress, that less on the radar is the fact that without the passage of a bill, many will begin losing unemployment benefits after the first of the year.
The House GOP is fighting their battle by claiming that they already passed a bill with a year long extension payroll tax extension that also extended unemployment benefits, too, albeit for less time than was proposed. What they are less inclined to mention in their talking points are the new rules that they want applied to unemployment that they added into their bill.
In order to receive benefits, anyone who is unemployed would have to take and pass a mandatory drug test prior to receiving aid. It’s a ploy that multiple states have either proposed or at least considered when it comes to welfare benefits, but no one had thought to add it on to unemployment, too. At least, not before now. One reason? The ACLU is currently suing Florida, the only state to actually pass the law so far, saying they are violating 4th amendment rights.
But drug testing is just one of the new hoops to be jumped through. Another? If you do not have a high school diploma, or a GED, you have to get one. And you must provide reports of “satisfactory” progress as you do it. Yes, the party of less government intrusion is now dictating how much education a person must have in order to be a member of the workforce.
As The New Republic writes, “[I]f someone is collecting unemployment who lacks either of these things we know that person managed to get a job in spite of this educational deficit–otherwise he or she wouldn’t be on unemployment. To require this person to enroll in a GED program as a condition of collecting benefits is in essence to say that you had no business being in the labor force to begin with.”
In other words, if you are unemployed, there is obviously something wrong with you — either because you are an addict or because you lack education. Otherwise, no one would have laid you off in the first place. Or so the House GOP believes. And they’ve made it the unemployed person’s responsibility to prove otherwise.