Sunday, January 05, 2014

GOP austerity program for the unemployed

In 1995 I lost my managerial level job after loyally working for the same company for twenty-one years.  At the time, the unemployment rate was about 5.6%.  It took me eleven months to find a new job that paid about twenty percent less.  I was lucky because I did not need unemployment assistance to survive during that time.  My former employer maintained our then current pay rate during our termination for a time derived from the number of years we were employed.  Many of us were long time employees and like myself found work before our termination salaries ran out.

Today, the unemployment rate is closer to 8% and unemployed people looking for new jobs have a number of new  obstacles in their way.  Most current-day companies would never continue to pay a person after they are terminated.  Many manufacturing and technical jobs have been moved to China or India and other American jobs are being given daily to lower paid foreigners working in America.  Federal Republicans are calling for more American jobs to be given to foreigners as they legislate for large increases in the number of H1-B visas offered annually.  The job market is diminished since 1995, competition for jobs is greater and now unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, who have been out of work for twenty-seven or more weeks is ended.

President Obama has called for Congress to extend long term unemployed benefits as a priority when they return from holiday break and Senator Reid has indicated he will put it on the Senate docket as a priority, but federal Republicans appear to be characteristically nonchalant about unemployment.

Contrary to the number one Republican concern spoken about by John Boehner of "jobs, jobs, jobs", federal Republicans are  insisting that extending unemployment benefits be either tied to big Democrat social program cuts or, as Eric Cantor has indicated, just won't be an issue of concern when the GOP House returns in January.

With Cantor's voting record against extending unemployment benefits in the past, it seems likely that the House will not even bring the Senate bill up for a vote.

It was laughable to hear the absurd explanation by the Republican's most promising future nominee for President, Rand Paul, that he was against extending unemployment benefits because "it does a disservice to these workers."  Paul believes that receiving unemployment insurance benefits makes a person less likely to look for a job and therefore perpetuates the time he or she is unemployed.  How likely is this to be true?

The unemployment insurance program does not provide unemployed workers with a full paycheck. The weekly amount varies by the state's insurance program rules but one estimate is about 25 percent of the weekly take-home pay.  How can a family who has a life-style that is adjusted to a home budget based on full wages be comfortable to continue to exist on 25% of that amount?  They can't.  Paul's explanation is a ruse.

With about 1.4 million unemployed about to lose financial assistance, Rand Paul explains that he would rather find a way to create jobs first, which is why the idiom "putting the cart before the horse" was invented.  Republican logic simply defies logic.

Analysts have estimated that it would cost about twenty-six billion dollars to extend unemployment insurance benefits.  Ironically, it cost about that same amount when Republicans forced the shut-down of the government last year.  If nothing else, that should make you angry.

If you are Republican and middle class or have ever lost a job due to no fault of your own, these Republican actions once again show that they are not worried about you and are not empathetic to you. They can't imagine what it is like to be living from paycheck to paycheck and what a negative impact a lay-off can have on your life.  They do not care that your children cannot eat well.  They do not even think about the family problems that develop during this stressful time.

Some GOP politicians can't think things through to their logical conclusion and can only learn from the hardships of bad personal experience.  I suggest we give them a chance to learn by personal experience and vote Democrat in all future elections.

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