Considering the rather strong likelihood that there are considerably more unemployed Republicans than there are Republicans boasting a financial portfolio equivalent to that of Mitt “look upon my riches and drool” Romney, it boggles the mind when trying to comprehend why Republicans in Congress are so determined to perpetuate the economic misery being endured by their own less fortunate cousins who elected them to office under the pretext that, as their representatives, they might actually care. At this late date I don’t think anyone expects the Republican leadership to care what happens to poor Democrats, even if those poor Democrats are fellow Americans, but you would expect them to harbor at least a flicker of warmth for members of their own family, right?
Yeah, well. In a word? No.
From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Jan. 17, 2012:
A provision that some policymakers may seek to include in legislation to extend the payroll tax cut through the end of 2012 would authorize the Secretary of Labor to let up to ten states per year use unemployment insurance (UI) funds for purposes other than paying benefits. The provision, part of the full-year payroll-tax bill that the House passed in December, would undermine UI’s fundamental purpose since its creation in the 1930s.
As the article goes on to explain in some depth, allowing states to use funds set aside for unemployment insurance for anything else other than, well, unemployment insurance, directly contradicts the purpose and intent of the entire program. This isn’t Unemployment and Whatever Else Needs Funding Insurance. This is money that has been deducted from the paychecks of working people for decades for the express purpose of providing them a minimal safety net when they lose their jobs through no fault of their own. This is not a hand-out. This safety net was earned, and as someone who is currently receiving unemployment, I am here to testify that it is indeed a minimal economic safety net, but it is critically important as I try to find another job as an adult of 50 plus years.
But like I said, I hardly expect the Republican leadership to give a damn about my circumstances as an unemployed Democrat. But I also happen to know some unemployed Republicans, and I’m wondering why the Republicans in the House would introduce legislation that could effectively begin the process of unraveling a program that has helped so many Americans (including Republicans), especially in times like these. Here in Michigan, our own Republican Governor Rick Snyder has already signed legislation that would effectively make it much harder for unemployed workers to get unemployment insurance beginning this year and that would cut back the length of time you can collect those benefits. Snyder says that the purpose is to encourage folks to work. Right. Apparently he’s forgotten that he is the governor of the one state that has been hit harder than any other during the economic crisis, and where the unemployment rate is among the highest in the nation. But I guess if you’re Gov. Snyder you can just close your eyes, click your little glass heels, and wish it so.
That’s a magic trick we all wish we knew how to perform.