Washington, DC-Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Jack Reed (D-RI) joined Larry Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) on a conference call this afternoon urging Republicans to stop their unprecedented obstruction of unemployment benefits for jobless Americans, which expired in June.
This is the third time this year that Republicans have forced unemployment benefits to expire, causing more than 2 million Americans to lose unemployment insurance benefits. Congress has never before declined to extend unemployment benefits as long as the unemployment rate was at least 7.4 percent nationally. Today, that rate is 9.5 percent.
A recent report from EPI makes the case that providing this safety net will also benefit the overall economy and help create jobs. This money helps families pay for food, medicine, and prevents more people from being evicted or going into foreclosure.
Tomorrow afternoon, the Senate has scheduled a key vote on the extension of unemployment benefits.
"I go to the floor of the Senate almost daily and read letters and emails from Ohioans who are on the edge of financial ruin because they have exhausted their unemployment benefits," said Senator Brown. "Many have lost their job and, as a result, they lost their health insurance. After that, they lose their home or apartment because they can't afford the mortgage or rent. Passing an extension of unemployment insurance isn't just the right thing to do - it will also help stimulate the economy and serve as a critical part of a jobs agenda that puts the middle class first."
"Extending unemployment insurance is not just the right thing to do, it is a wise investment with a strong rate of return," said Senator Reed. "The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that every dollar of UI benefits results in $1.90 of economic activity. Unemployment insurance directly boosts every state's economy, at a time when state spending is necessarily constrained. Extending unemployment insurance will not increase our structural deficit, but failing to do so could tip the economy toward a double dip recession. We have limited resources and we must strategically deploy them where they will do the most good and get the most bang for the buck. This is a proven, cost-effective investment and I think we now have the votes to finally break the filibuster and move forward."
"Extending unemployment benefits does more than just cushion the blow for unemployed workers during a recession. It is also one of the most effective ways of injecting spending into an economy that sorely needs it," said Larry Mishel of the EPI. "Since the beginning of the recession, the expansion of the unemployment compensation system has saved or created 1.7 million full-time equivalent jobs. The Recovery Act has been responsible for 1.2 million of these jobs. At a time when there are nearly five jobs for every job-seeker, it is critical that the federal government takes the necessary steps to address our dire economic situation, and that includes extending benefits."