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Outraged Republican lawmakers rise up on their hind legs and howl in protest at any suggestion that Washington should finally end the special, decade-old tax break given to millionaires and billionaires. Never mind that these privileged one-percenters are doing extremely well and don’t need more taxpayer handouts, their Congressional defenders wail that any cuts in their tax benefits would spook the elites by creating “financial uncertainty” for them.
Meanwhile, these same lawmakers howl in outrage about the meager unemployment payments going to America’s hard-hit, out-of-work families who actually need a helping hand in today’s jobless economy. More than five million of our fellow citizens have been unable to find jobs for half-a-year or more. To tide them over to better times, Congress begrudgingly okayed a supplement to state unemployment funds in February, supposedly allowing up to 99 weeks of jobless benefits.
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But, lawmakers, who are so sensitive to the delicate temperaments of the one-percent, struck these “99ers” with a clause that builds “financial uncertainty” right into the law. They quietly reduced the total number of weeks of extended aid available to the jobless and made it more difficult for states to qualify for the supplement.
The result is that unemployed people in 23 states have already been stunned to find that they’ve lost up to five months of benefits they were entitled to. Already, about half a million jobless Americans have been cut off prematurely from payments that make the difference between hanging on… and plunging into poverty.
Adding insult to injury, these knock downs are rationalized by the right-wing howlers as necessary. Why? To prevent the unemployed from becoming dependent on public help – a concern that is not expressed about extended tax giveaways to the super-rich.
“U.S. Winds Down Longer Benefits For The Jobless,” The New York Times, May 29, 2012.