According to Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, Republicans have cost the economy $3 billion in less than two months by blocking an extension of unemployment benefits.
A new analysis found that the Republican refusal to extend unemployment benefits is having an impact on the economy that runs into the billions of dollars. 72,000 American workers are losing their unemployment benefits each week, while both House and Senate Republicans continue to block any extension of benefits for the long term unemployed.
Way and Means ranking Democrat, Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) said, “The loss of long-term unemployment benefits is weighing down our economy at a critical point in the economic recovery, threatening to inflict long-term damage. Long-term unemployment remains an enormous challenge for millions of Americans and our overall economy, which is exactly why Republicans should join with Democrats to renew this important program.”
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On the topic of unemployment benefits, there are two arguments. The moral argument is that, as a society, we have a responsibility to help American workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. The Republican argument against extending unemployment benefits is that unemployment is a moral failing that the individual is responsible for. They believe that the government should have no role in helping those who have lost their jobs. Republicans have labeled the unemployed lazy, and unwilling to work.
A variation of this argument has been advanced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Both men have made the argument that unemployment benefits discourage work. They believe that it is better for the unemployed to face poverty instead of getting help from the government. Republicans have struck out with argument. Polling has consistently shown that roughly 70% of Americans favor extending unemployment benefits.
Having lost the moral argument. Republicans like Sen. McConnell and Sen. Rob Portman have shifted their argument against extension a UI extension to the economic realm. Republicans have been claiming that unemployment benefits are too expensive, so if they are going to be extended, they must be paid for. The reality is that it will cost the economy more, roughly $30-$40 billion to not extend unemployment benefits than the cost of the extension ($25 billion).
These economic losses aren’t isolated. They are building one on top of the other around the country, and causing long term damage to the economic health of the country.
It is difficult to put a numerical value on the amount of damage that has been done by those who decided to hand Republicans the majority in the House, and take away the Democrats’ 60th vote in the Senate, but the House Ways and Means Democrats have provided a basic starting point.
Voting for any political party that doesn’t have the economic interests of the majority at heart will result in catastrophic economic damage for many. The cost of empowering Republicans is financial devastation for 72,000 workers a week, and billions lost to the U.S. economy.
Your vote not only matters, but it can be the difference between survival and struggle.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association