If you have followed this space over the past few weeks you know that we have been a bit obsessive in our commentary about the extension of benefits for the long term unemployed. Our fixation on this topic stems from a deep bewilderment over the total disconnect in Washington about the serious consequences the unemployment situation is having on our economy and our society.
Over the past five years we have watched our elected officials give lip service to creating good paying jobs. “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!” has been the rallying cry for every politician who took to the stump. Yet all we get out of Washington is partisan gridlock as our elected leaders debate abortion rights and Obamacare ad nauseam.
We have become immune to the theater of Washington politics. Failing to come through on ones’ campaign promise is more the rule than the exception. That’s politics. But cutting off a critical lifeline to those most affected by your inability to make good on your word…that’s unconscionable.
We have written about the plight of the 1.3 million long term unemployed Americans who lost their benefits on December 28, 2013. We have written about the consequences of this misguided congressional decision; the 240,000 private sector jobs that will be lost and the .4% decline in our GDP.
What we have failed to point out is that this is but the tip of the iceberg.
If congress fails to act on its promise to create jobs, the 1.3 million who have been out of work for over 26 weeks will grow to 3.2 million in June…and 4.9 million by the end of 2014. The recessionary periods of 1990 and 1981, when long term unemployment numbers barely reached 50% of today’s figures, pale in comparison. You have to go back to the Great Depression to find long term unemployment numbers this bad. As these numbers grow so too does the negative impact on our economy and our quality of life
Yesterday, the senate managed to pass a cloture vote to allow debate to reinstate unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans. The measure stands little chance of passing in the House. Next up…another debate over the ceiling debate.
Jobs? Jobs? Jobs?