Yesterday evening, local news station KMOV aired a special report about unemployment. At one point, the news station asked Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) about the unemployment situation and said she “suprised” them with her response. The station asked the senator if unemployment benefits should be extended and if the payroll tax cut implemented as part of the tax cut deal last year should continue:
MCCASKILL: I’m not for extending unemployment benefits any further. The payroll tax cut, I’m always for tax cuts for working folks, because I think that helps our consuming economy.
McCaskill’s Democratic party colleagues from Missouri, Reps. Russ Carnahan and Lacy Clay, were also asked about the two measures, and they both said they supported them.
The senator’s response is shocking at a time when unemployment remains so high and unemployment insurance continues to remain important to stimulating the economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 270,000 Missourians remain out of work as the state’s unemployment rate hovered at around 8.8 percent in June. As the Wall Street Journal reported that month, nearly 23 percent of these unemployed Missourians have been out of work for 52 weeks or more. Nationwide, 44 percent of the unemployed have been out of work for more than six months.
The Economic Policy Institute noted recently that Congress’s failure to extend unemployment benefits could cause the loss of as many as 582,000 jobs in 2012. By opposing extending unemployment benefits, McCaskill is not only advocating to not help thousands of Missourians who are out of work through no fault of their own, but she is also calling for a policy that could throw hundreds of thousands of more people out of their jobs too.
McCaskill’s office clarified to the Huffington Post’s Arthur Delaney that, while she does not support additional weeks of unemployment beyond the current maximum (in some states) of 99 weeks, she would support continuing to ensure that up to 99 weeks of benefits are available for those already in the unemployment insurance system.