Extending Unemployment Benefitsby Representative Marcy Kaptur
Posted on 2014-01-15
KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, it is un-American that House Republicans are
refusing to hold a vote on extending benefits for Americans who have
worked and are now unemployed. It is particularly astounding, with a
Speaker from Ohio, where unemployment has just ticked up, that the
Republican Party refuses to bring up a vote on extending unemployment
Since 1948, this is the first time that Congress has allowed extended unemployment benefits to expire with unemployment rates as high as they are. Long-term rates, especially among older workers--people who have worked their entire lives--are at the highest levels and doggedly resistant to amelioration.
More than 1.3 million Americans, including nearly 40,000 Ohioans, have lost benefits because of House Republicans. If House Republicans get their way, by the end of this year, 5 million Americans and their families will have been denied unemployment benefits--people who have worked their entire lives.
Speaker Boehner, that includes more than 128,000 Ohio families being denied benefits they have rightfully earned.
My office has been receiving call after call from constituents who don't know why they lost their benefits and asking what they can do now. In one particular case, a woman put in the required years for her job and was ready to retire. She believed in work. She valued work. She spent her life doing it. Unfortunately, suddenly, just before she put her papers in to retire, she was laid off. She lost her job as a result of cutbacks, through no fault of her own. Her husband is disabled and unable to work. Extended unemployment benefits were helping the family make ends meet. Republicans in this House took away this family's ability to pay their bills. She is now begging friends and relatives to help pay their heat bill, to keep the lights turned on, and to pay their medical bills. The uncertainty and stress this family is now facing is unfair and completely un-American.
Extending unemployment benefits to people who work is not only the right thing to do, it actually is better for our economy. The Economic Policy Institute estimates if we do not extend unemployment benefits, it will cost our economy 310,000 more lost jobs because people who aren't able to hold their family budgets together anymore don't buy as many groceries, can't pay their gas bills, can't pay their mortgages, and they fall into poverty.
Why would Congress want millions more falling into poverty while creating more job loss in the Nation? Creating jobs and growing our economy should be our first priority here in Congress.
As Paul Krugman put it in a recent New York Times article: No matter how desperate you make the unemployed, their desperation does nothing to create more jobs.
So let's come together to strengthen our economy, to stop offshoring millions and millions of jobs in this country, and let's extend unemployment benefits to the people in this country who have earned them. Until then, I urge Republicans to at least allow a vote on restoring unemployment benefits to those Americans who have worked for a living and deserve the respect of this Congress.