Once again the unemployed in America are told NO by GOP mandates. If you wondered what happened to the Tax Extenders Bill; HR4213, that left the Senate floor for the House a few weeks ago, wonder no more. The EUC and Cobra extensions that were attached to the tax extender Bill, were earmarked for the same monies that the House utilized to cover the Health Care Bill. I repeat-There is NO funding for the bill, HR 4213 that the Senate sent back to the House for approval.
While the unemployed wait for the year long extension to pass, the Senate has passed small 30 day quick fixes-the latest by Congressman Levin, HR 4851, which would again, create yet another 30 day extension for UI and Cobra benefits and at this point, it appears it will not be passed before the Senate takes their 2 week Spring break. The headlines: Unemployment Extension takes Backseat to Health Care by Arthur Delaney alludes to the passage of the Bill being put off as our Senators focus on the Health Care Reconciliation, when the reality is the funds have been used for the Health Care Reform. As outlined in the article GOP Refuses TARP Funds for Unemployment Extensions, Kills Approved Senate Bill , by R Grone; the truth is now out. Either the monies go to help the unemployed or the monies go to Health Care Reform. What a total underhanded play by the GOP in Washington! This means that more than likely, even the latest provision adding additional 30 days is on hold.
Combine the above with the economic research report issued last week by Michael Feroli of JP Morgan Chase Bank, that purports to show that extended unemployment benefit payments caused higher unemployment and longer term employment. His assertion: the availability of these benefits has almost certainly played a significant role in the record rise in the average duration of unemployment. Consequently, they have also had a role in the stunning rise in the unemployment rate over the last two years. Noting the current correlation of high unemployment, longer average duration of unemployment and expanded unemployment benefits, the giant, previously bailed-out Wall Street bank asserts: The magnitude of these effects has been the subject of a vast amount of econometric investigation. The variable most studied is the degree to which unemployment duration increases for a given change in the maximum available duration of jobless benefits. Most estimates of this elasticity have centered on a finding that an increase of one week in the availability of benefits raises the average duration of unemployment by 0.2 week. Never mind that mass joblessness and record rates of long-term unemployment both preceded the extension of additional jobless benefits.
It is exactly this kind of misinformation that is potentially a dangerous threat to the survival of millions of unemployed Americans. You can bet that bank lobbyists and their conservative cronies are circulating this report and others like it to gin up opposition to extending unemployment benefits. Add in the GOP comments; that the unemployed are on the "dole" and the ground swell of public opinion against extending these life line benefits begins to rise.
What Mr.Feroli, and the GOP fail to mention, is that if the US actually had JOBS and JOB creation, then perhaps the 15 million long term unemployed would actually be working and NOT trying to survive on unemployment benefits! In the real world, "reality and truth" have always been worlds apart from a political standpoint. It is becoming very clear, that the unemployed, under employed and long term unemployed, need to take their message to the streets and hold our elected voice in Washington to task and start putting some kind of plan in place to get the unemployed working again. And if that is not viable, then pass EMERGENCY legislation that extends the EUC and Cobra Law through 2010 with additional tiers, so that these unemployed people continue to have a life line to just survive.