UCubed Map Showcases Broad GOP Attack on Jobless
Metropolitan area unemployment numbers for the month of February reveal another poor showing on behalf of state governments to create much-needed jobs. In fact, instead of putting Americans back to work, a number of state governors and legislatures – particularly those with Republican majorities – are proposing and moving a series of bills aimed at punishing the unemployed.
In states like Michigan, Ohio, Texas and Florida, lawmakers have either voted, or are preparing to vote, on legislation that would cut back on jobless benefits, reduce the amount of weeks the jobless can collect unemployment insurance, require the unemployed undergo drug tests in order to receive benefits, and… the list goes on. It’s all part of a concerted attack by the GOP on the middle class.
Just to show you how broad the GOP plan of attack is, UCubed has put together a map of the states currently pushing anti-jobless legislation.
Here’s an outline of the various attacks:
Republican governments in Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, New Mexico and Ohio are seeking to either reduce or freeze the maximum amount of unemployment benefits for jobless residents. Rather than tax the hyper-rich, the top 1 in 1,000 households, whose average income went from $4 million to $35 million in the last 40 years, GOP leaders are looking to balance their state budgets on the backs of jobless and middle-class families.
In a bill pushed and signed by GOP Governor Rick Snyder, future out-of-work residents in Michigan will only be eligible for 20 weeks of unemployment, rather than 26. As The New York Times noted, the original bill was supposed to reduce unemployment fraud and ensure that the state’s long-term jobless would continue receiving benefits from the federal government. The reduction was slipped into the bill without fanfare. Arkansas and Florida lawmakers are pushing similar legislation.
Drug Test Requirement
GOP lawmakers in Florida, Indiana, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas are saying “No drug tests. No unemployment check.” State lawmakers are considering legislation that would require unemployed residents pass a drug test before collecting jobless benefits. Some states are even considering making the jobless pay for the tests out of their own pockets (a typical drug test costs about $42/person). A similar proposed measure in Arkansas recently failed.
Volunteer Service, Skills Review & Lower-Paying Job Requirements
In addition to reduced benefits, reduced weeks and a drug tests, GOP lawmakers in Florida are considering a series of other requirements before the jobless can receive unemployment benefits. Proposed bills would discontinue benefits if the jobless refuse to undergo a skills review; force the unemployed to accept a job that pays at least minimum wage after 19 weeks on benefits; and require the unemployed do at least four hours of volunteer service each week to qualify for benefits.
Benefit Waiting Period
The GOP blueprint in the Kansas state legislature calls for the restoration of a one-week waiting period for an unemployed person to receive compensation. The waiting week had been originally eliminated in 2007. At the time, it sometimes took up to three weeks before an unemployed resident received their first check.
Limit on Number of Unemployment Benefit Recipients
In addition to reduced benefits and weeks, Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels recently signed into law a bill that limits eligibility for unemployment insurance, reducing the number of recipients. For instance, temporary employees and those on extended leave will not qualify. Neither will workers on planned short-term shutdowns or those who accept voluntary buyouts.
Refused to Accept Federal Unemployment Funds
The 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act provided federal funding for extended unemployment benefits; however, the program required most states enact legislation that would enable them to draw upon the federal funds. To date, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming have, either, yet to act or failed to act in time. As a result, thousands of long-term unemployed workers in these states are prematurely running out of unemployment benefits that allow them to support their families. In addition, these states are losing out on an estimated $876.2 million in federal funding that would go a long way to help boost their state economies.
Take action! Click here to send your state legislature and governor a letter demanding they cease their attacks on America’s jobless – or prepare for the unemployed to settle the score in 2012.
Show your support by clicking “Like” on UCubed’s page on Facebook!