Thursday, March 17, 2011

Michigan Republicans Poised to Throw Thousands Off of Unemployment Benefits

Might as well just face up to facts. Michigan Republicans are running the state government for the benefit of business interests only. Regular citizens need not apply.

Remember how Congress passed the unemployment benefits extension at the end of last year? Well, we needed to make a simple change in our law to accept those benefits - and now our R lawmakers are dragging their feet and pulling out the usual objections as to why they can't do that.

That's because, although the money has been approved, Michigan's legislature needs to pass legislation that would make the state eligible to receive it.

35,000 jobless Michiganders could see extended unemployment benefits immediately stop on April 2nd if the Legislature fails to act by next Friday. And state agencies say there are more who could see benefits cut off if an extension to the Extended Benefits (EB) program isn't accepted.

"Approximately 150,000 unemployed workers in Michigan could potentially be affected by the loss of the EB program," said Steve Arwood, Deputy Director of the Deparment of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth. "These are individuals who are currently on EB and those who could exhaust all of their benefits before the end of this year."

And yes, this is strictly a partisan move. It's also time to start calling that out for what it is. For all of Snyder's talk about how we would "work together" and not play these games anymore, once again we find that Republicans are refusing to consider Democratic amendments to legislation.

So, where's the bipartisan love? Doesn't exist, and people are going to start paying the price.

On Wednesday, Rep. Byrum proposed a substitute bill on the House floor that would've allowed approximately $500 million in federal funds into the state. That bill was voted down.

A representative with House Speaker Jase Bolger's (R - Marshall) office says the Speaker is still on the fence about the issue. That representative told WILX that although Bolger understands the problems Michigan's long-term jobless are facing, he's concerned that the increased costs businesses would bear from extending benefits could be too high.

Yes, "business" comes first. Always. Besides, Republican Senator Rick Jones thinks the unemployed are just lazy. He wants "reforms" to the system.

"I want the truly unemployed to have benefits," said Sen. Jones. "I worry about all of the cases I hear where people aren't looking for employment."

Ah, the "truly unemployed", as opposed to all those people who are doing it for fun. Some unemployed are more deserving than others. These statements indicate that Republicans aren't going to move this legislation anytime soon - even though it's reported that Snyder is in favor of it.

I'm starting to think some recalls are in order. If not a campaign against Snyder, then maybe pick a couple of Senators. I don't like recalls at all, because they are usually used as a partisan weapon (on taxes in particular) - but I don't know how else to send a message at this point.

They aren't listening to Democrats. They aren't listening to public opinion. They aren't listening to protests. They aren't serving the people, period. You get the impression they are going to do as much damage as they possibly can before the election next year - and if this keeps up, we might just be set to have another blue wave sweep the country.

How many will be hurt in the meantime?