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article imageOp-Ed: Losing benefits isn’t prodding unemployed back to work

By Eliana Robinson     Apr 16, 2014 in Politics
The verdict is in — cutting unemployment benefits does not help workers. Surprised? Hardly. Squabbles between congressional Republicans and Democrats resulted in the end of federal emergency unemployment benefits for over 2 million Americans.
Now, three months later, the tough love approach to governing has not had the desired effect.
Many leading Republicans including Eric Cantor and Marco Rubio followed Speaker Boehner’s lead and supported an end to the Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. They believed that the program was no longer needed and many GOP leaders were quite vocal in comparing the program to a crutch.
The high unemployment rate was not influenced by the additional weeks of benefits. In fact, the maximum weekly benefit in most states is only $315.00. Clearly, this meager amount is not an incentive for highly paid machinists or former executives not to work. Others, who were living from check to check before the Great Recession, found their circumstances moving from strained to dire. And to be clear, those with minimum wages received minimal unemployment benefits — between $90-150 weekly. Unemployment is not about a $300 check — it is about too few jobs in too many industries.
The numbers from the Bureau and Labor Statistics show that the unemployment rate remains unchanged from the 6.7 percent reached last December. Not surprisingly, today’s news did not come with the fanfare of Cruz’s filibuster nor were there any victory laps by Mitch McConnell. Instead, it was met with a sobering reality that if ending the benefits did not make things better — it made them worse.
Although the unemployment rate stayed the same, a few things did change. In fact, the number of Americans who fell further in debt increased. Likewise, the number of children who went to bed hungry rose sharply during this period. Unfortunately, the net worth of the Congress increased as well.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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