Three days after Christmas, 1.3 million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits. And, another two million will stop receiving assistance if Congress doesn't extend long-term benefits by June. Our nation is barely pulling out of the worst recession since the Great Depression, and we're abandoning those who are out of work because of this economy. The unemployment rate is officially sever percent, but there are still at least three unemployed workers applying for every open job.
People on long-term unemployment aren't sitting around collecting checks – they're fighting like hell to be given a chance to get back to work, but the competition they face is intense. Rather than our government stepping up to be the employer of last resort, Republicans in Congress make the absurd argument that cutting off this economic lifeline will somehow help out-of-work Americans suddenly find that nonexistent job.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has announced that the Senate will vote in early January on a temporary extension of unemployment benefits, and that it's “just the first step” toward addressing income inequality in our nation. But, that date means that – even in the best case scenario – more than a million Americans will see a delay in unemployment benefits, which could be much longer if Republicans hold up or block the upcoming vote.
It is utterly un-American to abandon those who need our help. Our nation learned from history, and recognized the importance of keeping people from falling through the cracks, yet here we are, repeating those mistakes once again. We shouldn't be cutting unemployment benefits, we should be investing and creating jobs, which are the only real ways to help Americans get back to work.
The Ed Schultz Show weekdays 3 PM to 6 PM on WWRL 1600.