How the GOP Could Steal Xmas

Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/labor2008/3562626867/sizes/m/in/photostream/">aflcio</a>

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Here’s some holiday gloom for you: Two million out-of-work Americans will lose their safety net this month if Congress fails to extend temporary unemployment insurance. Another seven million will lose their benefits within the year. And the economy could shed 0.6 percentage points in gross domestic product if jobless benefits aren’t extended. Those are the grim highlights of a new report (PDF) by the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers.

The White House’s latest report gives supporters of extending jobless benefits, mostly Democrats, more ammunition. For instance, the report found that 14 million jobless Americans received financial support as of October. For some families, these benefits are crucial to staying afloat: In 42 percent of households where there’s one earner and that person collects unemployment insurance, the elimination of these benefits would wipe out 90 percent of their income.

By not acting sooner, Congress has already allowed two emergency forms of unemployment insurance to begin to expire on Wednesday. The benefits were originally created in 2008, as the economy collapsed and unemployment soared. Now, however, lawmakers can’t reach a compromise on whether to continue them. Republicans refuse to support the benefits because they’d add to the deficit, even though members of both parties have traditionally approved unemployment benefits because they’re an “emergency” measure.

When asked on Thursday about Republican intransigence, Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, pointed out the GOP was denouncing the extention of jobless benefits while simultaneously demanding tax cuts for the rich—which would also add to the deficit. “The Republicans arguing that we should pay for emergency unemployment insurance but not pay for high-income tax extensions does not make any sense,” he told reporters.

Unlike the tax cuts, Goolsbee said, failing to extend unemployment insurance threatens to derail the economy’s tepid recovery. “Letting millions more Americans fall into hardship will hurt our economy at this critical point in our recovery and immediately undermine consumer spending,” he said.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest