Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Snyder Blames Legislature for Cuts to Unemployment Benefits

Right under the bus they go. As you may have heard by now, Michigan has the dubious distinction of being the first in the nation to reduce weeks of state unemployment from 26 to 20, starting in January of 2012. This action has made the national news, from the front page of the WaPo last week, to a top ten story on the AP wires yesterday, to the NY Times today. That's the kind of publicity that will attract the best and the brightest to locate here, right? Right. Or not.

Now, before you go pointing your finger at the bossman, be advised that he didn't really want to do this, you see. It was all the Legislature's fault. Yeah. That'll work.

A spokesperson for Snyder said last week he would have been willing to sign a measure that kept the state at 26 weeks of benefits, but the votes for the measure were not there. The spokesperson also said Snyder may be willing to look at changing the weeks back if the federal government votes to restore the unemployment benefits program before the end of the year.

Sure he will. What makes him think that the Republican votes will be there in the future if they aren't there now? Not going to happen. While Snyder tries to make himself look like the good guy, the Michigan Chamber is applauding what is essentially another business tax cut, pointing at our $3.9 billion federal unemployment trust fund debt as the reason they are afraid that business taxes might go up in the future. How did we get so far in debt in the first place? Business tax cuts, of course.

But Michigan employers had their taxes reduced in 2002, and it's one reason the state unemployment insurance fund was depleted, said Rick McHugh, an Ann Arbor attorney for the Washington-based National Employment Law Project. The organization advocates policies to help unemployed people and low-wage workers.

With the Chamber highlighting Michigan's debt for everyone in the national press to see, and crying about how taxes on business are going to go up to pay for it, it's doubtful that any new businesses would be enticed to move here by this cut to unemployment benefits. Bad PR, all the way around.

And it's all done to play starve the beast. Cut taxes, create a deficit, insist on benefit cuts to pay for it. Lather, rinse, repeat, obviously the answer to the problem of debt is to keep reducing our income, and then passing the bill along to someone else. That someone else is you. Oh, and by the way, little mentioned is the fact that this will reduce the weeks of federal benefits as well.

But under federal formulas, federal unemployment aid will be reduced, too, because Michigan's maximum period is shortened. That would mean that someone who is laid off after Jan. 1 would be entitled to 16 fewer weeks of extended federal unemployment.

Which practically eliminates the 20-week extension, which was the reason for this action in the first place.

Nicely played, Republicans. You have to admit, they are the best grifters this world has ever seen.