Horowitz: Restore Unemployment Benefits to Long-Term Unemployed
Tuesday, January 07, 2014
Senator Reed, in an e-mail sent out to constituents and donors this weekend, said, “These 1.3 million Americans want to get back to work. These are our friends, our families, and our neighbors. All they need is a helping hand through these tough times.” Echoing Reed’s comments in his weekly radio address, President Obama remarked, “We don’t abandon our fellow Americans when times get tough—we keep the faith with them until they start that new job.”
The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program is now completely funded by the federal government and provides extended unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed—those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more—whose original benefits have run out. Congress typically makes this type of emergency funding available during periods of high unemployment. The current iteration of this program was launched at the beginning of the Great Recession in 2008.
Time to act
While the economy is improving and long-term unemployment is beginning to decline, it is premature to pull the plug. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are still nearly 3 unemployed workers for every job opening, reports The Washington Post’s Wonkblog. Further, the nation's long-term unemployment rate remains as high as it's been at any point since World War II. It is now about twice as high as the long-term unemployment rate was at the times emergency unemployment benefits were cut off in the last three recessions, according to Chad Stone, Chief Economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Cutting off these benefits is also a drag on the economy. Economists estimate that we are losing up to $1 billion a week. This money is spent immediately and has a significant multiplier effect.
Congress must act quickly to adopt Senator Reed’s legislation and provide individuals and families who are truly on the edge essential support The next step is negotiating a bi-partisan compromise to provide the approximately $25 billion to extend emergency unemployment benefits for all of 2014. In order to attract sufficient Republican votes, this will likely require identifying down-the-road offsetting budget savings so our long-term debt is not increased. This is a doable task—one critical to keeping the many people still being hurt by the lingering effects of the Great Recession afloat.
Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.
Related Slideshow: 10 Questions Raimondo Has to Answer When Running for Gov of RI
- Rob Horowitz: Chris Christie’s Big Moment Is Coming Soon
- Rob Horowitz: King, Obama + Citizen Activism
- Rob Horowitz: States Stepping Up On Climate Change
- Rob Horowitz: Climate Change On the Table… Finally!
- Rob Horowitz: Newtown- One Year Later
- Rob Horowitz: Time To Find Common Ground, Congress
- Rob Horowitz: Comprehensive Immigration Reform Is Back
- Rob Horowitz: Obama Leads National Conversation on Trayvon Martin
- Rob Horowitz: Tough Fight Coming On Immigration Reform
- Rob Horowitz: 5 More Reasons for New Year’s Optimism
- Rob Horowitz: Finally, Some Common-Sense Drug Sentencing
- Rob Horowitz: Obama Steps Up on Climate Change
- Rob Horowitz: Trust in Media Near an All Time Low
- Rob Horowitz: A Teaching Lesson at Brown
- Rob Horowitz: Food Stamps Are the Wrong Political Football
- Rob Horowitz: Obamacare—Hold the Shovels
- Rob Horowitz: At Last: A National Budget Agreement
- Rob Horowitz: Government Shutdown A Disaster for House Republicans
- Rob Horowitz: RI’s Minimum Wage Boost Good News For Families
- Rob Horowitz: Campaign To Strangle Obamacare In Its Crib Will Fail
- Rob Horowitz: House Republicans Hold Debt Ceiling Hostage—Again
- Rob Horowitz: Rhode Island’s Self-Esteem Campaign Needs More Money
- Rob Horowitz: Chafee Takes Himself Out of the Game Too Soon
- Rob Horowitz: Kennedy: A Vision of What We Can Do Together
- Rob Horowitz: Speaker Boehner Joins the Shutdown and Default Caucus