Americans who want to work but can’t find a job after months of unemployment are being hit hard by the cut off of long-term unemployment benefits by Republicans in Congress. But their epic policy blunder is hurting everyone, even if they don’t realize it.
A new study finds that more than $1.76 billion has been stripped from state economies across the U.S. since the GOP denied the extension of unemployment insurance. This, even though nearly two-thirds of Americans believe such benefits should be extended to job seekers who have been out of work for as little as 20 weeks in some states.
The loss of benefits not only directly impacts the 1.6 million people now without benefits, it also hurts their families. There are 2.3 million children living with a parent who has been out of work for 26 weeks or longer. And more could join them soon enough. An average of 73,000 people a week will lose benefits, and beyond them, there are an additional 3.6 million who will get less aid than they would otherwise if the program isn’t extended.
And the economic hit could devastate even more, as the economic cuts from the reduction in unemployment insurance could lead to the loss of an additional 240,000 jobs.
The Republican failure to get on board with helping those who are trying to help themselves is just the latest example of the growing problem of income inequality is this country. As Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) recently told the Huffington Post, the GOP is “throwing sand in the gears” of the economic revival that is waiting to happen.
Hard-working Americans should not be used as a political pawn in some silly partisan power play. Congress needs to take the lead in spurring investment instead of doling out billions in tax breaks to corporations already ringing up record profits.
It’s been said before, but this issue is one that affects people of both genders, all races, all ethnicities and people of all ages and societal standing. The solution stands before lawmakers. Republicans need to drop the games and help people who want to work to provide the bare essentials for their families while they continue looking for employment. That’s leadership.