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Walking Away from the Unemployed
Photo by Flickr user brownpau
Fact: 13.3 million people are officially unemployed. That’s more than the populations of Maine, Delaware, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Vermont, Idaho, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Wyoming, and West Virginia combined. Many of them are relying on unemployment insurance to help them get through this holiday season -- to put food on the table, pay their heating bills, and celebrate Christmas among family and friends. But many of these families may be hit with a devastating New Year’s surprise. Nearly 2 million people will find themselves cut off from these critical unemployment benefits in January if Congress fails to act.
How vital are these benefits? According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, unemployment insurance kept 4.6 million people out of poverty in 2010, 3.2 million as a result of those benefits that Congress failed to renew because the House walked away. See the blog post here.
With each passing hour, it’s looking like Congress will fail to act in time to keep a vital safety-net in place for millions of people during the holiday season and into the new year. After they were unable to reach agreement on a year-long extension of unemployment insurance and the payroll tax cut, Senate leaders struck a deal to extend those provisions for two months with the promise to return to the issue in 2012. On Saturday, after the Senate passed the compromise bill with overwhelming bipartisan support by a vote of 89-10, senators left town. The House refused to follow suit, demanding further negotiations. Read more in this blog post from the National Women’s Law Center .
Now it looks like Congress will go out on vacation, leaving millions of Americans who are struggling to find work in this tough economy out in the cold. But there’s no vacation from unemployment. 1.8 million people are about to be cut off of federal unemployment benefits in January alone. Up to about 6 million unemployed workers would lose benefits over the next year without congressional action. And 160 million Americans are about to see their taxes increase because of failure to extend the payroll tax cut.
Walking away from those who are trying, but are unable to find work in this tough economy, and are struggling to provide for their families this holiday season is more than a disappointment; it’s reprehensible. Congress needs to extend these benefits.
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