On Dec. 28, in a move reminiscent of the government shutdown but with much more serious and immediate implications, Republicans in Congress forced the unemployment insurance emergency aid program to lapse after refusing to pass an extension for another year, causing some 1.3 million people to lose their benefits. Why? In the words of Rand Paul (R-KY): “When you allow people to be on unemployment insurance for 99 weeks, you’re causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy.” But the borrowed words of Dave Chappelle express that sentiment a little more succinctly: “Because fuck ‘em, that’s why.” So what does this mean for Americans, besides the fact that many politicians aren’t even trying to act like they give a shit anymore? Well, it’s not looking too pretty.
During the recession of 2008, Congress extended the amount of time during which laid-off workers could receive benefits past the usual 26 weeks that had been the rule of thumb for several decades. This varied from state to state up to 73 weeks. Now that the extension has not been passed, any worker who has received benefits for more than 26 weeks is cut off. Anyone who is currently under the 26-week limit will be cut off when they reach that mark (or even sooner in some states). This year, which would take about $25.2 billion to cover, about 5 million people will lose benefits.
Since people can’t just “go get a job” as Rand Paul suggested. Jobs don’t just magically appear when your unemployment is cut, and there are roughly 2.9 job seekers for every job opening. Many will probably quit looking for work and lose their status of “unemployed” since that only pertains to those actively seeking work. Hopefully some will be able to get loans from family and find at least part-time work. Some may be able to collect other types of government aid. But a lot of people will simply be out of luck.
The economy will take a blow since those 5 million or so people will not have money to spend. This will cause the loss of existing jobs. Five million may not sound like much in a nation of 314 million, but that is $25.2 billion that will not be put into the hands of consumers.
The Democrats are in talks to try to pass the extension, but things aren’t looking good. So far, only six Republican senators have agreed to go along with the extension. It is not impossible that it will eventually be passed because the Repubs are using this as leverage to get some of those budget cuts they always try to strong arm. It’s likely that they realize this can’t go on forever and are just playing a game of chicken. But something must be done. This problem can’t go unresolved, because every second it does, it’s causing despair for millions of people.
Some economists have suggested, either in place of or in addition to an extension, adding some incentives for employers to hire more workers, such as lowering the minimum wage and subsidizing the rest. Something like this would get businesses hiring and people back to work, but an extension is extremely necessary in the short term. People are already suffering. For people like Paul to invoke those age-old catch phrases about unemployment insurance preventing people from getting jobs is wrong on so many levels.
This is an insane situation and every time these people pull something like this I feel like it has to be a joke or plot from a cartoon where the hero has to fight a Snidely Whiplash look-alike or something. I am not under any illusions as to the integrity of so-called liberal congressmen or any politicians in general. Quite the opposite; I assume they are self-serving assholes just like the rest of them and very few have done anything to dissuade me. But these openly anti-everyone-but-the-super-rich Conservatives are truly an enemy of the people. They are so good at what they do that they have a large chunk of our numbskull population convinced that they are on their side. The only upside to this horrendous incident is the miniscule possibility that one of these poor, brainwashed zombies programmed by Fox News to click the box that says “R” will open their fucking eyes and see what the hell is actually going on when they pull the plug on their unemployment. Will it actually accomplish anything? No. But like in “Network,” the first step is getting “mad as hell.” And I would rather attempt to see what’s going on than live in the dark.
It should make them mad as hell. It’s enough to make you scream until you lose your goddamn voice. This shit has … to… stop. The days of the cute bickering between James Carville and his Republican wife (whatever the fuck her name is) are over. It’s not fun and games; it’s people’s lives. So Paul and all his reptilian-brained, bile-spewing, privileged, racist, sexist, homophobic, religious zealot, thumb-up-your-ass, robotic accomplices: seriously, go fuck yourselves. You are the epitome of what is wrong with the world and we would all be better off if you jumped into a pool of man-eating sharks. Do it off a diving board at a carnival like they used to make the horses do back in the ’20s. Broadcast it as an Internet pay-per-view so we can raise some money for the millions of people whose lives you’ve personally ruined. Only then would I forgive you for what you have done and continue to do to your fellow human beings. Not that you give a shit you sociopathic monstrosities of human nature. Fuck you.