Betsy Markey, a Democrat representing Colorado’s 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives recently joined the Republicans in their efforts to deny badly needed unemployment extensions to millions of unemployed workers. Rep. Markey, along with Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman(representing Colorado’s 5th and 6th Districts, respectively) have all recently voted against unemployment extensions claiming ‘fiscal responsibility’ as their motive. Fiscal responsibility – otherwise known as the national deficit – is undoubtedly a very real long term problem that must be addressed once the economy is on its way to a full recovery and millions of people are put back to work.
However, the problem that must first be addressed is the need to create millions of jobs. Until those jobs – which currently do not exist – have been created and the US unemployment rate declines from it’s current level of 9.5 percent, unemployment benefits and other programs are needed to prevent the tens of millions of Americans who are currently unemployed from losing their ability to pay their mortgage, rent, utility bills as well as Internet and telephone expenses which have become absolute necessities for finding work.
Over the last several months, the Republican Party, along with a few Democrats and Independents , notably Ben Nelson (D- Nebraska) and Joe Lieberman (I- Connecticut) have consistently blocked unemployment extensions and other measures that are not paid for and would therefore add to the skyrocketing deficit. Many on the far right have expressed disdain for the unemployed, calling them lazy, hobos and by saying that the unemployed would rather collect their small unemployment benefit checks than go out and obtain a real job. In other words, they have likened unemployment benefits as a form of government funded welfare payments.
Many leading economists including Mark Zandi, Chief Economist with Moody’s Economy.com vehemently argue that the weekly unemployment benefits provide a source of economic activity that is necessary to prevent the US economy from falling into a double-dip recession. “The odds that the economy will slip back into the recession are still well below even,” Zandi said during a conference call with reporters. “But if Congress is unable to provide this help, those odds will rise and become uncomfortably high.” You can read the full article written by Arthur Delaney of the Huffington Post here.
In addition Congress’s Joint Economic Committee released a report which indicates past evidence suggests that even when unemployment benefits are gone, the unemployed workers remain out of work for quite some time – an indication that receiving unemployment checks does not provide an incentive for the unemployed workers to not actively look for work.
“The evidence is clear these benefits do not inhibit job seekers from vigorously looking for or accepting work,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, New York Democrat and chairwoman of the committee in an article written by Steven Dinan of the The Washington Times. “Not only that, but the money that unemployed workers receive is plowed right back into the economy and thus can stimulate the economy and help it grow,” she added.
It is estimated that each dollar of unemployment insurance benefits paid to workers results in $1.90 of additional economic activity because recipients immediately spend unemployment benefit checks paying for food and other basic needs (often referred to as the multiplier effect).
While the above mentioned delegates voted against unemployment extensions, it is important to note that both Colorado Senators, Michael Bennet (D) and Mark Udall (D) voted in favor of extending unemployment along with Representatives Diana DeGette (D- 1st District ), Ed Perlmutter (D- 7th District), Jared Polis (D- 2nd District) and John Salazar (D- 3rd District).
Colorado’s unemployment rate (currently at 8%) is expect to increase by almost two percentage points by the end of 2012. You can get more details by reading my recent article “Colorado’s unemployment rate is expected to rise to 9.2%”. The Colorado Department of Labor estimates that 10,000 Colorado citizens each month will lose their unemployment benefits in the coming days and weeks.
Anyone can contact Representatives Betsy Markey (D-4th District), Mike Coffman (R- 6th District) and Doug Lamborn (R- 5th District) and urge them to support extending unemployment benefits. In addition, Democrats and Republicans alike should be urged to enact legislation that will create jobs for Colorado and other States across the country. The obstructionist style of politics taking place in Washington are not necessary and should not be tolerated by the American people. This obstruction comes at the expense of the millions who remain unemployed and the entrepreneurs and small businesses that would otherwise be planning for growth and future hiring needs to maintain that growth. If there was ever a time to make your voice heard in Washington, it is now.
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