Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas from the GOP: 3 Million Stand to Lose Unemployment Benefits

The Republican Party seems Hell bent on proving that it is an uncaring, hypocritical party of the very wealthy. The latest example is the game being played over the extension of the payroll tax cut and the related issue of unemployment benefits. If a plan is not approved soon, the average family will see a $1,000 tax increase as will small business. As icing on the cake, up to 3 million of the unemployed will lose benefits. Meanwhile, the Republicans are fighting tooth and claw to block any tax increase on those with incomes of over $1 million a year. Merry Christmas GOP style. What's dumbfounding is that the lunatics in the Tea Party somehow continue to believe that their Republican elected officials give a rat's ass as to what happens to the average Tea Party supporter. I guess the only explanation is that since about 85% of the Tea Party crowd also identify themselves as conservative Christians - members of the Christian Right if you will - we are seeing another display of the rejection of objective reality and the embracing of ignorance. Here are highlights from a New York Times story on the ass backwards GOP values:

More than three million people stand to lose unemployment insurance benefits in the near future because of an impasse in Congress over how to extend the aid and how to offset the cost.

Jobless benefits have been overshadowed by debate on a payroll tax cut, but have become a huge sticking point in negotiations on a bill that deals with both issues. Republicans would continue aid for some of the unemployed, but would sharply reduce the maximum duration of benefits and impose strict new requirements on people seeking or receiving aid.

Democrats said these changes made no sense at a time when 45 percent of jobless workers had been unemployed for more than half a year and the average duration of unemployment — 41 weeks — was higher than at any time in 60 years.

They are toying with people’s lives. I’m getting really scared and nervous.” Mr. Grandstaff said he was making $43,000 a year when he was laid off in March from the collections department of a major cellphone company. Now he is working at a part-time job for $8 an hour and hoping the position will lead to full-time work.

Brenda G. Crosier, 52, of Northglenn, Colo., outside Denver, is also at risk of losing extended unemployment benefits. She said she applied for five to eight jobs a week but rarely received responses . . . .

Major provisions of the federal unemployment insurance program begin expiring in the first week of January, and people would begin to feel the effects over the next several months. By mid-February, the Labor Department estimates, 2.2 million workers would have lost jobless benefits, and by the end of March, 3.6 million will be affected. People in states with the highest unemployment rates would be among the hardest hit.

Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the senior Republican on the Finance Committee, said: “I don’t see why you have to go more than 59 weeks. In fact, we need some incentives for people to get back to work. A lot of these people don’t want to work unless they get really high-paying jobs, and they’re not going to get them ever. So they just stay home and watch television. I don’t mean to malign people, but far too many are doing that.”

Representative Jim McDermott, Democrat of Washington, said the Republican proposals amounted to “the most drastic attack on the unemployment system” in 75 years.

Democrats say the program has reduced poverty and helped stabilize the economy, reducing the depth of the last recession. Republicans say the benefits have led some people to reduce their efforts to find new jobs. Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio, said: “The problem is not a lack of effort for those seeking a job. The problem is a lack of jobs.”

The fact that those receiving unemployment are real people with real families to support seems lost on most Republicans in Congress. Apparently, if one doesn't have the means to write a fat campaign contribution check, you no longer count in the GOP's increasingly sick world view. I know a number of people currently seeking jobs and sadly, the jobs aren't there.

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