On July 3, 2010 it was estimated that 6,900 unemployed West Virginians exhausted their unemployment benefits because the U.S. Senate failed to reauthorize the expired jobless aid that was included in the 2009 Recovery Act. It gets worse. By the end of July the number of unemployed workers in West Virginia exhausting their benefits will climb to 13,300, according to the National Employment Law Project .
On July 1, 2010 the US House passed HR 5618 (Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act of 2010) which extended the filing deadline for extended unemployment insurance benefits until Nov. 30, 2010. Rahall and Mollohan voted in favor of the bill. Capito did not vote. The Senate voted on a tax extenders bill (HR 4213) on June 30, 2010 that included the unemployment benefits extension, but it failed by two votes (58-36) to get the two-thirds super majority needed for passage. Rockefeller voted in favor of the bill.
Mark Zandi, cheif economist with Moody’s Economy.com and former adviser to Sen.John McCain (R-Ariz.), testified, “The odds that the economy will slip back into the recession are still well below even. But if Congress is unable to provide this help, those odds will rise and become uncomfortably high.” According to Zandi, for every dollar spent on unemployment compensation, $1.60 is added toour economy’s output. During the first five months of 2010, this brought in over $22 million to West Virginia’s economy.
Extending the unemployment benefits is a “no-brainer.” Our economy is weak, with 3 out of the 4 components that make up our GDP lagging (low private consumption, very little private investment, large trade deficit). This means the only way to move the economy is for government, the 4th component of GDP, to spend money to boost consumer demand.
Even the Wall Street Journal thinks it’s a good idea (and that it will reduce the deficit). And no, extending unemployment insurance benefits does not reduce the incentive to work or create a “moral hazard” in an economic downturn. Quite the opposite.
Let’s hope when Congress reconvenes next Monday that they decide to put workers and the economy first and put aside political posturing. And let’s hope Governor Manchin appoints someone soon to Byrd’s seat so we have a chance at passage.
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