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GOP Block Unemployment in Effort to Punish the Poor

Updated on January 7, 2014

As of December 28, 1.3 million people were booted from Unemployment Insurance. By the end of 2014, 5 million will have been treated in kind. The CBO has estimated that over 200,000 jobs and 0.2% GDP would be created by the end of 2014, should UI be extended.

How does UI create jobs? Simply - when a person can purchase goods, that money goes to a local businessman who then has more money to spend himself at another local business, or to reinvest in his own business and hire another worker, who can then purchase goods from another local business...

This virtuous cycle is called the multiplier effect, or dynamic growth. The trickle-down crowd is all about dynamic growth when it comes to tax breaks for the wealthy, far less so when discussing the poor and working poor (this despite the far superior return on social insurance program spending versus spending on tax cuts).


From a strictly economic perspective, extending UI is sound policy. From a moral perspective... Well it is certainly odd that the party (who claims to be the party) of Jesus has no qualms with punitive punishments for being poor. The right-wing (Limbaugh, Varney, Dolan, et al) are rendering their garments and gnashing their teeth over Pope Francis, who has utterly destroyed on moral grounds, the only economic theory the GOP has known for 30 years. The right-wing believe that the wealthy are incentivized by getting more, but the poor are incentivized by getting less. If we make is soooo hard to be poor in America, then no one will be...


Rand Paul offers his own reasoning - the good senator is fine with 26 weeks of UI, but anything beyond that is a "disservice." Ye olde welfare hammock.

This line of thinking is completely out of touch with reality. The average UI benefit is $300/wk. To suggest that $1300 a month (plus $133 in SNAP) is enough to "lull one into complacency" is quite a bold assertion.

To be clear, UI is an earned benefit. You have to work and pay into UI every check for at least 26 weeks, and if you lose you job through no fault of your own, you can qualify for UI which pays roughly 60% of what you were making at work, federally guaranteed for 26 weeks so long as you can prove that you are actively searching for work.

Today, there are three applicants for every job opening. Generally, we extend UI benefits beyond 26 weeks in economic down times. In fact, the UI extension has never been allowed to expire with an unemployment rate as high as it sits now. Not once in US history. When elementary economics evade elected officials, shame inevitably effects even the most earnest of austerians.


It has, at least...

This GOP wants to punish the American people for voting for Barack Obama. Whatever they have to do to tank the economy and make the gov't disfunctional is fair game, no matter how harmful. They have convinced themselves that Obama as President is far worse than any pain they inflict on the populace to stop him and tarnish his legacy. If they can screw up the economy and Obamacare roll-out enough - then they can win the Senate in 2014, impeach Obama and repeal Obamacare, effectively erasing his presidency altogether and tainting liberalism for a generation in the process. We are all collateral damage in this nefarious quest.


This GOP is demanding offsetting budget cuts (after McConnell dropped his demand to delay Obamacare...). It's entirely is ridiculous - people are suffering right now, today. First of all, $25b (for a 12-month extension) over a 10-year budget is miniscule. Second, tax receipts will be higher if these folks have the UI to spend, so the cost is reduced. Third, 14 of the last 17 times UI was extended, it was not "paid for." Fourth, it took four years of negotiations to finally get us a budget, and hunger can't wait for a grand bargain.

Possible solutions? Marry the duration of (extended) benefits to the jobless rate or long-term unemployed rate. Pay UI directly to the employer to keep folks employed rather than sending them home to receive a check. Continue benefits for a period of time after they find work, so there is no incentive to stay unemployed. Block-grant UI for individuals to open small-businesses. Shift UI funds to job-training programs. Grants to relocate to a new job. A modern WPA to put people to work on infrastructure such as retrofitting buildings...


The Beltway debate is insane. The discussion should not be how and how much to punish the poor, but how to put people to work. The GOP has an identical economic policy, no matter the state of the economy - trickle down. This shows how little economic theory actually goes into their political theory on economics. Tax cuts for the wealthy will inevitably trickle down to the rest of us...

Rand Paul notes that businesses are more likely to hire someone who has been out of work for 4 weeks over someone who has been out of work for 99 weeks. The good senator from Kentucky uses that knowledge to insist that the long-term unemployed be cut off and left to suffer in abject poverty for their own good rather than addressing the root causes of joblessness.

Because freedom...


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