It’s no time for politics as usual, but Republicans have voted as a virtually solid block against extending unemployment benefits and COBRA health care subsidies to the long term unemployed.
Many conservative Democrats have not been willing to act either — voicing concerns about more emergency spending with a rising deficit. But we don’t have a short-term deficit crisis—we have a jobs crisis.
Congress left for the Fourth of July holiday recess without taking action to extend unemployment insurance and COBRA benefits, leaving millions of families on the brink of disaster. This inaction is unprecedented and indefensible.
Construction workers — up to 30 percent — are on the bench. Small businesses are folding. Plants are closing. Foreclosures are on the rise. Up to 300,000 teachers across the country may be getting pink slips — and even more state and local employees. Our economy is at risk of a double dip recession unless we take steps now to stimulate it.
When Congress returns from vacation, it must act swiftly and decisively in order to alleviate the immediate suffering of the unemployed and create family-wage jobs. If it fails to do so, union members will hold obstructionist senators and representatives accountable at the ballot box in November.
(Over the congressional recess labor leaders and unemployed workers met with elected officials in Wisconsin to share their stories of economic distress. Top Photo: Rep. Steve Kagen meeting with an unemployed worker, as well as members of AFSCME, the NorthEast Wisconsin Building and Construction Trades Council and USW. Photo Credit: Greg Hinds. Bottom Photo: Rep. Ron Kind met with an unemployed worker as well as leaders from ATU Local 519 and UA Local 434. Photo Credit: Andy Thompson.)