Congress has just recessed without extending unemployment insurance for those who need extended assistance. Happy Holidays from the Republicans who see them as “takers.”
Now those needing extended benefits have to stressfully penny-pinch through the holidays for fear of not getting any more benefit checks even though they and their companies have contributed to the government for years, for just this time of need. In addition, they’re continually demonized as lazy freeloaders in the black-or-white, zero-sum world of the Mitt Romney right wing.
People getting unemployment benefits are those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. That’s how you qualify. The insurance only pays a fraction of what they were earning when they had a job. For example, somebody making $1,200 a week will only get around $400 a week in unemployment insurance. That’s the maximum payout and it is taxed to boot. This small amount only helps with life’s necessities for survival. When asked, the unemployed would much rather have full-time jobs than get a fraction of their salary to live on with the insurance money. Yes, there are some gaming the system, but most jobless people are seeking work. Unemployment benefit money is good for the economy because it’s all spent money; there is no surplus to save and squirrel away.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) just said that he is against extending unemployment insurance benefits because companies would much rather hire somebody who is only 26 weeks unemployed than somebody who is 90 weeks unemployed. Talk about callous, distorted logic! Because somebody is unemployed longer doesn’t mean he or she is less valuable. Most of the more senior or specialized workers don’t find jobs for at least six months, or even a year. Surveys tell us so. In Paul’s whacky Libertarian world, there is no government helping anybody because it limits one’s freedoms.
Come next election, let’s hope the unemployed and demonized remember those who abandoned them when they vote. It’s time to take back the government for the people.