Friday, December 03, 2010

Voices of the Unemployed

Powerful video from the AFL-CIO.

Strange comment on WOOD-TV news tonight claiming that Senator Stabenow's office told them that there will be a vote tomorrow on extending benefits - but I haven't seen that anywhere else yet, so I wouldn't run to the bank on that alone. There has been banter that the unemployment extension will be part of a huge trade-off for tax cuts for the rich - extending the college tuition break, business hiring break, the Making Work Pay credit from the Recovery Act, and even the debt ceiling argument, all thrown in for good measure. The Senate will vote on the middle class cuts only tomorrow at last report; it is expected to fail, but it sure will be nice to get some names on record. At this point, I don't care if we nail some Democrats on that as well - they want to play games with people's lives to hold out for tax cuts for the rich, I think we need to know about that, don't you?

And thanks goes out to Governor Granholm tonight for pushing this issue as well. While Snyder has been vague and non-committal about unemployment benefits (but he sure could lobby to have the feds waive interest payments so "business" doesn't have to pay higher unemployment taxes), the Governor used her radio address today to bring attention to the fact that not only is this about compassion for people who are just trying to pay the bills, buy food, and keep a roof over their head - it also creates jobs and helps the economy right now. She throws in a nice shot at Congress as well.

Extending unemployment benefits is not only the right thing to do; it’s the right economic policy. Money from unemployment benefits is rapidly spent in the local economy at places like the grocery store, the corner pharmacy, the gas station – all stimulating demand.

It’s estimated that employment in Michigan is about 42,000 jobs greater now because of emergency and extended unemployment benefits provided over the last two years.

Conversely, letting millions of jobless Americans fall further into hardship by not extending benefits will hurt our national economic recovery. The impact on Michigan would be an estimated 26,000 fewer jobs, and ending the benefits will stretch our social safety net to the breaking point.

What’s ironic is that the same members of Congress who are blocking extended unemployment benefits are adamant that Congress has to first extend tax cuts for the wealthiest in our nation.

So, after denying a few hundred dollars a week to an unemployed worker, they would extend tax cuts for those with household incomes of $250,000 and more.

This is not only unjust, but it’s poor economic policy.

Makes you wonder who will advocate for the people once she is gone. Snyder is "running the state like a business" already - and apparently what he cares about first is that trickle-down bottom line. While getting the feds to waive those interest payments on our debt is important and should be encouraged, ignoring the immediate problem of 181,500 people losing their income by April and having them show up at your "business" for assistance in other ways should take priority. DHS announced this week that the need out there is the "worst in seven decades", and while they are doing their best to handle the load and have made improvements for efficiency, right now there are 2 million Michigan residents receiving some sort of assistance. They don't need to see any more folks walk in the door.

The state is encouraging people to keep making your calls to MARVIN in the hopes that Congress will come to its senses and get this done, and claimants will be able to get retroactive benefits. Don't count on that though - anyone watching the dance that is going on in DC right now knows that it all could fall apart as soon as the Republicans move the goalposts one more time. Since that seems to work so well for them, chances are they will try it again before this is over.