It’s very hard to not be disappointed with the consistently out-maneuvered Democrats in Congress especially given the level of callous pain the GOP is continuing to level on the unemployed masses of poor, minority, and/or females in America.
This week’s budget agreement between Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was yet another one, but I suppose it met important criteria for a budget deal. But, in a conspicuous omission, it doesn’t renew federal emergency unemployment insurance benefits that will expire just after Christmas; which will adversely affect millions of already scared and suffering Americans. Why do the masses always suffer for the sake of a few, even in America?
They damn sure shouldn’t, but apparently lawmakers will go home for their own worry-free Christmas without even attempting to fix the more important problems facing what used to be the much-better-off lower and middle-income masses. It took decades, but Ronald Reagan’s legacy “trickle-down” economics has finally started drowning the millions of Americans the GOP never once gives a second thought about.
At the very least they should attempt to make the benefits kick in retroactively when they return in January. They should, but they won’t.
Reagan’s “shining city on a hill” vision of America led by Republican conservatives has become the product of a war-mongering Republican Party made up of a bunch of hate-mongering, vote-suppressing, vagina-controlling seditious insurgents who promote disobeying the constitutionally-approved laws they don’t like, and infringing on the rights of women and minorities, and belittling unemployed Americans.
The Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which since 2008 has provided financial support to nearly 24 million workers who’ve lost their jobs in the deepest and most prolonged jobs slumps since the Great Depression, will expire in a matter of weeks. Policymakers have enacted an emergency unemployment insurance program in all seven previous major recessions back to the late 1950s, and none of the previous programs was allowed to expire until labor market conditions had improved sufficiently. And we’re certainly not to that point yet.
Even though unemployment has fallen to 7.0 percent, this measure alone provides a picture of the labor market’s overall health that is entirely too optimistic. The recession drove many people out of the labor force, and scarce job opportunities in the ongoing jobs slump have kept many potential jobseekers on the sidelines.
Their absence from the official number of unemployed keeps the unemployment rate lower than it otherwise would be. But it also means that the percentage of the population with a job, which plunged in the recession to levels last seen in the 1980s, has also changed very little over the last four years. In a robust jobs recovery, the unemployment rate would fall quickly, but labor force participation and the share of the population with a job would rise.
In addition, long-term unemployment remains a significant concern. Nearly two-fifths (37.3 percent) of the 10.9 million people who are unemployed — 4.1 million people — have been looking for work for 27 weeks or longer (regular unemployment insurance benefits typically run out after 26 weeks). These long-term unemployed represent 2.6 percent of the labor force. At 2.6 percent, the long-term unemployment rate is at least twice as high as when any previous emergency federal unemployment insurance program expired (see chart).
Unemployment Benefits Keep Businesses Open Too
Failure to extend emergency benefits, of course, adds to the financial hardship of the long-term unemployed and their families, but it’s also a drag on the economy. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that an extension would boost the economy by up to 0.3 percent by the end of 2014 and add up to 300,000 jobs. Not extending the benefits would remove that potential boost from the economy.
Of course, none of this matters to a GOP hierarchy that places more importance on keeping the fanatical far-right wing of their party from running primary candidates that tend to deplete their campaign war chests than the well-being of the economy, the country, or its citizens.
To put the emergency unemployment insurance program’s economic impact of in perspective, it’s about the same size as the impact of the Murray-Ryan budget deal that begins in 2014.
Economist Joel Prakken of Macroeconomic Advisers says, for example, that the deal would boost economic growth by “maybe 1/4 percentage point” compared to the sequestration cuts scheduled under current law.
As I mentioned at the top, the budget deal meets some important criteria: it raises deficits in the near term to boost the economic recovery, but reduces them by an even larger amount later, when the economy is expected to be stronger. But here’s the rub: The economic drag caused by lawmakers’ failure to include an extension of federal emergency jobless benefits in the deal would likely negate that stimulus.
Without an extension, 4.9 million people will lose out on benefits in the next 12 months, according to Labor Department estimates. The economy will also lose out on a needed boost.
Tis the season to screw millions for the sake of attempting to harm one lone black President.