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News Snapshots: Extending Unemployment Insurance

Posted on by Karina

In the last two years, Senate Republicans have repeatedly obstructed job creation legislation and legislation to extend critical unemployment insurance benefits to help Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own make ends meet as they look for their next job opportunity. As 2 million Americans currently stand to lose benefits this holiday season, with 2 million more losing benefits early in 2011, Republicans are once again trying to cut the safety net of hard-working Americans:

2 million could lose benefits by years end

Unemployment insurance is one of the best investments we can make, not only for those who have lost their job through no fault of his own, but for the millions more whose jobs are kept secure because of the proven economic boost. As MSNBC explains, it makes sense:

Extending UI benefits makes sense

Americans receiving unemployment benefits buy goods and services from businesses—from retail stores to plumbers—which employ millions more Americans. Congress has recognized this since 1959—never letting extended unemployment benefits expire when unemployment is over 7.2%. As Mark Zandi, Chief Economist for Moody’s Analytics explains, “no form of the fiscal stimulus has proved more effective during the past two years than emergency UI benefits, providing a bang for the buck of 1.61–that is, for every $1 in UI benefits, GDP one year later is increased by an estimated $1.61.” A new multi-year study by the Urban Institute found during each quarter of the recent recession, UI benefits kept an average of 1.6 million Americans on the job. In addition, analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finds that extending unemployment benefits is one of the most cost-effective and fast-acting ways to stimulate the economy:

CBO

In addition to dismissing economists, Congressional Republicans are also ignoring Americans. According to a Gallup poll last week, 76% say it is important for Congress to extend unemployment benefits for long term unemployed before the end of the year.

While Republicans say we can’t afford to give families without jobs time to find work, they are holding middle class tax cuts hostage, unless they can borrow and spend $700 billion more to give bonus tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires. In tough times like these, millionaires should be giving to charity—not getting it. But that’s the exact policy choice Congressional Republicans would have us make, citing concerns about the deficit when it comes to America’s families, but not when it comes to tax cuts for the wealthiest few.

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