It is hard to believe, as the holidays approach yet again amid economic hard times, but Congress looks as if it may let federal unemployment benefits lapse for the fourth time this year.
Lame duck lawmakers will have only one day when they return to work on Monday to renew the expiring benefits. If they don’t, two million people will be cut off in December alone. This lack of regard for working Americans is shocking. Last summer, benefits were blocked for 51 days, as senators in both parties focused on preserving tax breaks for wealthy money managers and other affluent constituents.
This time, tax cuts for the rich are bound to drive and distort the debate again. Republicans and Democrats will almost certainly link the renewal of jobless benefits to an extension of the high-end Bush-era tax cuts. That would be a travesty. There is no good argument for letting jobless benefits expire, or for extending those cuts.
Last year, I had 33 clients who reported unemployment benefits on their tax return.
I went back to those 33 client's and evaluated their situations this way.
1) 14 clients had a spouse who continued to maintain their current salary.
2) 8 are clients in their late 50's early 60's who are basically taking an extended vacation until they retire or the benefits run out, which ever come first.
3) 3 are single wage earners who, although not working, have savings to support them while they're out of work.
4) 3 are people who are working "under the table" while claiming their unemployment.
5) 5 are people who are out of work with little savings and few job prospects.
So while I realize that my clientele is not a statistical analysis of the unemployed as a whole, I would be surprised that more than 25% of the people on unemployment would have no options without that income.
Here's what I don't get. Where was the outcry from the NY Times for the unemployed worker who lost his job in, say, 2006? When his 26 weeks were up, it was ball game.
Where's the fairness to that guy?