Last week Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) held up passage of a bill that would extend unemployment insurance to millions across the country. He says it will add to the national deficit with what Republicans are claiming is another unpaid program.
Why is it Republicans think it’s ok to pull programs that help people during a time when the economy is weak? The answer is very simple and it came from former Congressman Tom DeLay.
On a recent episode of CNN’s “State of the Union,” they said unemployment benefits keep people from going and finding jobs.
So now we understand the GOP opposes giving people unemployment because they think we’re not going to look for work. Unemployment benefits do not replace what you were paid; they only pay a percentage of your former wage. Some states require people to provide evidence they are looking for work.
In Michigan, anyone who is receiving unemployment benefits could be audited by the state to make sure they are looking for work. You won’t even see benefits until you sign up with the state’s employment search programs.
These arguments do not surprise me at all, but they show the GOP is continuously out of touch with mainstream America.
Unemployment benefits are temporary. You cannot be on unemployment for life. Because of the current state of the economy and the fact jobs are coming back very slowly, we have had to extend unemployment benefits to give people additional time to look for work.
There are some who suggest for every dollar given in unemployment benefits the government gets a $1.90 back. This could likely come back in the form of economic activity and tax revenues. But the most important thing is what unemployment insurance is actually doing for people.
It allows a mother of three to continue to pay her bills and feed her children while she continues to look for work. It allows an unemployed student to continue to go to school while finding time to fix their employment situation. It allows those who are unemployed to keep their homes and continue paying their bills.
I have had friends who, unfortunately, have had to take unemployment benefits. It is not something they want to do. Believe me, it’s better to have your own job and work for your own money. But in this economy it is very hard to do, so that’s why unemployment benefits are there.
The American people are not lazy, as Tom DeLay and other Republicans suggest. It is my belief most Americans are very hard-working individuals who sometimes need a helping hand. We have helped each other and those who we don’t even know. So I don’t think it’s too much to ask the government to help its citizens until we can have our strong economy back. These are the principles embedded into the spirit of this country. I guess the GOP just doesn’t believe that anymore.