There are folks who would have us believe that we can’t change the federal budget. That we can’t afford changes that would fight inequality, reduce wasteful and destructive Pentagon spending, and shift toward a budget that better reflects our collective values.
They’re wrong, and we’re not buying it.
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Photo courtesy of forwardstl
Last week marked three full months that Congress has let long-term unemployment benefits lapse, leaving 2.3 million unemployed workers – who have been unemployed for 6 months or more and have exhausted regular, state benefits – without assistance. And each week that passes, an additional 72,000 people lose benefits.
On Monday, the Senate passed an unemployment insurance bill that would pay jobless benefits to the 2.3 million long-term unemployed Americans through the end of May. The bill costs $10 billion and that cost would be offset by small changes to raise new revenue, such as extending customs user fees. The bill would also prevent millionaires and billionaires from collecting unemployment benefits.
Since before the expiration of these benefits, congressional lawmakers have been struggling to come up with a plan that leaders from both sides of the aisle would vote for. And although this bill is “paid for,” something that was very important to many lawmakers, it appears that leaders in the House won’t even allow it to come to the floor for a vote. Meanwhile, Congress is considering extending corporate tax breaks that are not paid for and would cost $700 billion.
To make matters worse, Congress is expected to be in session for just 72 days through the end of the year. And tomorrow, lawmakers leave Washington for a 17-day spring break. I wonder if they’ll be thinking about the additional 216,000 long-term unemployed workers who will lose benefits before they get back.