Provide Jobs -- or at Least Income
After Thanksgiving, 1.2 million Americans will be cut off from their existing unemployment benefits. These benefits have helped keep more than 3.3 million jobless workers and their families out of poverty. Moreover, before hitting the campaign trail Congress failed to extend the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) emergency fund, leaving even more working people out in the cold. Never before have federal jobless benefits been cut when unemployment levels were so high (9.6%) for so long.
Meanwhile, corporations are raking in record profits, but they still won’t create jobs.
Republicans claim that extending such unemployment benefits and TANF would increase the nation’s deficit, which is ironic given their push to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich. But solving the deficit requires taxing the corporations that got us into this mess, not cutting jobs and services for working people.
Most economists agree that unemployment benefits are a necessary economic component of actually sustaining other jobs in local communities that are striving to recover from the worst downturn since the 1930s. For every dollar spent on making the Bush tax cuts permanent, you get $.29 of increase in the GDP. For every dollar spent to extend unemployment benefits you get $1.64 increase in the GDP. In other words, a dollar spent on unemployment compensation gets 5.6 times more boost to the GDP than a tax cut for the rich. New polling data released by the Half in Ten campaign show that 4 out of every 5 voters supported extending the TANF Emergency Fund across all party lines.
This should give Congress a clear mandate: this country need jobs! And if Congress cannot create quality, new jobs they must provide the income to sustain the unemployed during this economic downturn.
With the holidays approaching and the jobs market barely chugging along, now is not the time to allow unemployment extensions to go by the wayside. There are currently 15 million unemployed, 9 million under-employed and millions of others who are not represented in official numbers because they have given up hope and stopped looking for a job.
Joblessness cannot become the new norm!
Cutting off unemployment benefits now is a lump of coal in the stockings of workers and retailers alike. When Congress returns from Thanksgiving, it has a unique opportunity to set aside partisanship and come together in support of hardworking people by extending unemployment benefits and the TANF emergency fund.
When Wall Street was in crisis, Congress found hundreds of billions of dollars to bail them out. However, Main Street has been in crisis even longer and has yet to recover. Congress must respond to the unemployment crisis with the same gusto, starting by extending unemployment insurance and the TANF emergency fund. After all, it was the jobless Americans who elected them and gave them their current jobs. It’s the least they can do.