Despite COVID Nightmare For Unemployed, Democrats Water Down Reform Proposals

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Democrats wanted to overhaul the unemployment system. Now, they are proposing to set minimum standards for the states.

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Democrats Lowering your ambitions for improvement Unemployment Insurance, despite major shortcomings in a system that has helped millions of Americans with little help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) proposed a new bill that would set minimum federal standards for the duration and eligibility for unemployment benefits. Most notably, the bill would guarantee 26 weeks of benefits for unemployed Americans.

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Most states already offer 26 weeks of unemployment insurance, but seven do not, and some states in the past have cut unemployment benefits to balance their budgets. Censors Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) are also backing the proposal.

The bill is an extremely diluted version of the Wyden and Bennett proposed in April, which not only guaranteed 26 weeks of benefits, but also created a standard for wage replacement, ensured additional aid when unemployment levels were high, and even federal pandemic unemployment. Version of the aid program, which was created to offer benefits to people who are not typically covered by unemployment – ​​such as self-employed workers or those in the gig economy.

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Since then, the federal unemployment benefits, which gave unemployed Americans an additional $300 a week through the pandemic, and the PUA program both ended, about 7.5 million Americans with no additional help.

He has no appetite to expand among Democrats; Even President Joe Biden said it was justified for the benefits to end. Democrats also support any major reform to the unemployment system, as previously proposed by Wyden and Bennett.

The rhetoric made by conservative Democrats during the spending reconciliation process has undermined the Democratic Party’s ambitions.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.)

Wyden and his allies are hopeful that this slim proposal could actually make it into the big budget reconciliation bill Democrats hope to pass this fall. That package, which could include up to $3.5 trillion in new federal spending, is meant to address key parts of the party’s agenda, from climate change to paid leave, and could be passed on partisan grounds.

Over the past year, there has been support for overhauling the unemployment insurance system across the ideological spectrum among White House officials and Democrats, but the costs have always scared lawmakers. House Democrats pitched the idea last summer to benefit economic conditions, but dropped the proposal after seeing how much federal spending it would require.

“This proposal makes a down payment on a long-overdue reform to our unemployment system, and was designed to fit into our upcoming package,” Weyden said in a statement to the spending and political sanctions of the Democrat’s budget reconciliation bill. Accepting said. “This system has been deliberately broken to reduce the number of unemployed workers who can access it, and we are taking significant steps toward fixing it.”

Democrats are already running into some serious headwinds within their party as they try to negotiate a budget reconciliation package, with more liberal and conservative Democratic lawmakers wary of spending too much to create new programs.


“I believe with all this rhetoric that conservative Democrats have raised during the reconciliation process about spending, undermining the ambitions of the Democratic Party in providing unemployment benefits and, frankly, I think it That’s wrong,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.), who earlier this month made a lonely and unsuccessful push to expand pandemic federal unemployment benefits, told Reuters.

This has continuously hanged the unemployed of the country in the balance. To receive benefits, laid-off workers have to wait longer to navigate backlog state systems; Additional federal benefits fluctuated in size from the original $600 per week in the first COVID-19 relief bill, and most recently to $300 per week. Now, they are all completely finished. Some states, largely run by Republicans, are even Eliminate increased benefits early, claiming without much statistical basis that the additional funding was discouraging work.

Meanwhile, there are still millions of fewer jobs in the United States than before the pandemic, and hiring has slowed.

There are also wide disparities between how much states pay for unemployment insurance; It ranges from a maximum of $240 per week in Arizona to $855 per week in Massachusetts. poverty researcher Stimulus checks along with increased federal unemployment benefits went a long way to alleviating poverty during the pandemic.

“We have a crisis that it’s in our midst right now, but we also have a long-term problem that has to be addressed. It can’t be swept under the rug or gets pushed,” said one self-employed from Nevada said mass events coordinator Marianne LeBlanc, who found herself unemployed for a long time during the pandemic. LeBlanc, who began advocating for other unemployed Nevadans and people in her industry during the pandemic, said she would not have been for the PUA program So she would have been in deep financial trouble.

As cities begin to allow larger events and shows, she is able to find some work, but learns that her work remains unpredictable as the pandemic continues.

“We will remain in the position we are in now and they will be huge financial drains on our economy,” LeBlanc said. “Letting 10 million people fall off a financial cliff is going to have its effects.”

He linked it to the plot of the popular Avengers movie “Endgame”.

“I equate it to the part in ‘Endgame’ where Thanos snaps and he makes 50% of the population disappear and then the Avengers work extraordinarily hard to get that 50% back, and when they When they come back, there is no room for them. Everyone has moved on, life is in a completely different place.”

“That’s what it feels like to be unemployed right now.”

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