Take Action! Millions to Lose Unemployment Insurance

While President Obama is in Washington talking about putting a freeze on government spending, soon millions of American families will be out in the cold. In one month, one million Americans are slated to lose their unemployment insurance. Millions more will follow. According to Judy Conti, Federal Advocacy Coordinator at the National Employment Law Project, the expiration of this vital lifeline "would be a catastrophe for these families and their communities."

Why is unemployment insurance ending, and what can you do about it?

When reckless Wall Street gambling collapsed the global economy, Congress stepped in and quickly extended unemployment insurance, food stamps and other support programs for millions of Americans. Congress extended benefits once more until February 28, 2010. The hope was that by that time, the economy would be picking up and creating new jobs.

But the truth of the matter is that no new jobs are being created. In fact, in December, 85,000 Americans lost their jobs. This is an improvement over previous months, but it was also ten times the number analysis predicted.

The stimulus package and emergency measures passed by Congress to help workers were big, but the hole blown in the economy by Wall Street greed and recklessness was is even bigger. Twenty-six million Americans are now unemployed or can't find full time work. Job loss is now driving the foreclosure rate, and economists predict that we may not approach normal levels of employment for five years or more.

Because employment is slow to grow, income support will be needed by many more Americans for years to come. That is why Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) is pushing a plan to aid the 17 states that currently have "work share" programs and wants to help all states start similar programs. Work share allows employers to retain skilled workers during economic downturns by reducing the work hours of a larger group of employees. Employees whose hours and wages are reduced would be eligible to receive a portion of their regular unemployment insurance benefits to compensate for the lost wages. Germany has undertaken an aggressive work share program and has successfully kept its unemployment level lower than many of its European neighbors, ameliorating the hardship on its workers and supporting the economy as a whole.

Mark Zandi, top economist at Moody's Investor Services, says that this type of income support is the "most efficient way to prime the economy's pump." Zandi calculated that for every $1 in unemployment benefits the government spends, it creates $1.69 in economic stimulus for the businesses in the communities where recipients live.

Moreover, the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute calculated that if this income support were withdrawn and these dollars were to stop flowing through local supermarkets, pharmacies, utility providers, and lenders, an additional 800,000 jobs could by lost by the end of 2010.

TAKE ACTION! We are in a big hole and it is going to take big ideas to climb out of it. In the mean time, the more workers and families that we prevent from slipping into the abyss, the better off we all are. Tell Congress to take swift action to stop the bleeding and renew unemployment insurance now. Send a letter to your member of Congress at BanksterUSA.

Mary Bottari

Mary Bottari is a reporter for the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). She helped launch CMD's award-winning ALEC Exposed investigation and is a two-time recipient of the Sidney Prize for public interest journalism from the Sidney Hillman Foundation.


In several weeks, my benefit will expire. When this happend in October, it took 4 weeks for the Senate to pass the bill though the House had passed it in late September. I was without funds for 4 weeks which caused all sorts of trepidation in my household.I am hoping that a bill will be passed before the current one expires. As I was previously self employed for 26 years, I have found it very difficult to gain employment, business's seem to be afraid to hire someone who was in my position. This is a shame as we have the knowledge and motivation to move mountains if given the opprotunity.

As i was employed with the same company for the last 20 years and 39 years in the transporation field,I am having difficulty finding employment in my area of expertise.At 60 years old, it is extremely hard to gain employment.Some people seem to think we are to old to work and too young to retire. By this age, we have paid into the system all our working lives.I understand that TARP and STIMULUS was necessary, but only approximately 2% of these funds have been used for the middle and working class.Our legislators in Congress must stop its divisions and work together for the good of the American people.As I watch the Presidents State of the Union speech tonight, I see a political divide in our Capital, a house divided will never benefit the American people. Congress must plan to extend benefits for the unemployed.

I am not in favor of extending Unemployment Compensation. It has been my experience that most people do not seek work until their Unemployment begins to run out. The amount they receive and the amount they are permitted to earn and still receive payment make securing a job a poor financial decision for most middle-class workers. We need programs that work; not ones that make it difficult for participants to get off those programs as it is not in their best interest to do so. As a former business owner, I found it difficult to entice Welfare and Unemployment recipients as they would lose eligibility for a host of government programs and I would have had to pay them far more than their skills merited to make up for that loss. We need to stop throwing money at problems and find solutions to the increasing plight of the poor and middle class. The tax burden on the middle class is unsustainable and the programs create a sense of entitlement when what we need is a path to a more productive life with temporary measures to sustain those facing financial ruin.. Having said that, we also need to stop throwing money in the form of subsidies and tax breaks to the rich and corporations. They too, have a strong sense of entitlement and a far louder voice in decisions. The middle class is being bilked from the top and the bottom with no end in sight. We need new ideas. Single-payer universal health care would have been a start but...

And just where does the calculation of what is "merited" derived from? What science, what method? As a business owner and executive, you'd be a person wholly invested in demeaning a person's "merited" skill-to-pay ratio to the barest minimum you can get away with, preferably nil. A person's skill to earnings ratio is foremost according to their needs, which is a living wage. That is calculated as the cost of living plus 35% at the minimum. The wholly fictitious "poverty line" pegged at $10,000 per year is one of the driving factors behind the perpetuation of poverty, dependence, and social disintegration; the imaginary notion that individuals on the welfare margin are somehow not "worth" being paid the requisite amount to mitigate, escape, and replace dependency on welfare benefits, of which there are many, as you put it, is wholly ideologically based. There is no way of measuring "worth" nor "merit." Social cohesion, that is: health access, pharmaceuticals cost assistance, transport, assistance in paying heating and electricity, food are but some of the core basic requirements to function for a single individual. Multiply that by dependent children as well as dependent spouses, who may themselves be unemployed, or ill, or in school for training, as for example, and the paltry "merit" notion of what marginal people's earning scale is putatively based upon becomes not only self-indulgent fiction on the employer's part but wholesale piracy and wage slavery in and of itself. If you want to own a business for yourself, then do so and do all the work yourself; then you earned and own every penny. The minute you enlist help and assistance, you relinquish by definition "self" ownership; you are responsible to your stake-holders first: your employees. Without their work, you sink. No one comes out alive floating on their own raft. Your outlook here is "there is no disease that cannot be cured, only people who can't be cured." That's sick.

Senators and Representatives: You should be ashamed of yourselves. please everyone go here and help! lets keep kids and families off the steerts and in there homes. Let them give money away to greeks and bankers but let us help our own and sign this petition. http://www.change.org/petitions/view/the_99ers_need_a_tier_v_added_to_unemployment_benefits