Will the GOP Really Block Extended Unemployment Benefits?
This week, we’ve been talking about the extension of the payroll tax cut that the GOP is likely to block tomorrow — which would have disastrous economic consequences and raise taxes on 160 MILLION Americans. But there’s another equally important piece of must-pass legislation Congress must take up before they leave for their vacation next month: an extension of unemployment benefits. The current extension, which Republicans agreed to as part of the December 2010 deal that extended the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy for through 2012, runs out at the end of next month.
Here’s the rundown.
A Quick Explainer of How Unemployment Insurance Works
- The State Role: The states are responsible for running their own unemployment insurance programs. They raise the funds for their own programs through taxes, administer state-level trust funds, determine eligibility rules, and distribute the funds under the guidelines they have established.
- The Federal Role: While states are given a good deal of flexibility, federal law establishes certain overall rules and guidelines that the states must also abide by. And in times of high unemployment — like right now — Congress can authorize federally-financed extended unemployment benefits.
- How Long Benefits Last: Typically, state-financed benefits last for up to 26 weeks, though many states have been cutting back benefits even as the unemployment crisis has worsened. Federally-financed benefits can run up to a maximum of 99 weeks in the states with the highest unemployment rates, though the number of weeks available varies considerably by state. Shockingly, some state legislatures have simply failed to pass the necessary legislation to enable their citizens to receive these extended benefits paid for entirely by the federal government.
By the Numbers
$1.52…the amount of economic growth generated by every dollar spent on unemployment benefits
4…the approximate number of workers actively job-hunting for every position available.
48…the percentage of unemployed Americans currently receiving unemployment insurance benefits thanks to growing crisis of the long-term unemployment
500,000+…the number of jobs that could be destroyed next year if unemployment insurance is not extended
700,000+…the number of new jobs created in recent years thanks to extended unemployment benefits
2,200,000…the number of unemployed Americans who will lose their benefits in January if Congress fails to pass an extension of federal benefits
3,200,000…the number of Americans pulled out of poverty in 2010 thanks to unemployment benefits.
4,400,000…the approximate number of Americans who have been unemployed for more than a year
6,000,000…the number of unemployed Americans who will lose their benefits over all of 2012 if Congress fails to pass an extension of federal benefits
14,000,000…the current number of unemployed Americans
$57,000,000,000…the hit the economy would take during just the first three months of 2012 if unemployment benefits are not extended
No Time To End Extended Unemployment Benefits
IN ONE SENTENCE: Neither our economy nor the millions of jobless Americans looking for work can afford for Republicans to block an extension of unemployment benefits.
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