Renewing the Emergency Unemployment Compensation bill would add $25.2 billion to the current federal budget. Right wing politicians and media outlets tell us that we can’t afford such “giveaways” unless they are offset by other spending cuts. Oddly, they have no such requirements for subsidies to defense contractors, the oil industry, the financial industry, big Pharma, corporate agriculture and other large interests.
But for a program that will prevent 1.3 million people from falling into the abyss? Teapublicans believe that cost needs to be offset!
Certainly saving $25.2 billion sounds good. But, in government, saving money always comes at a cost. In this case, it’s not difficult to imagine the human cost of taking away the only source of income for 1.3 million people…people who have been unemployed for six months or longer. People who are discriminated against by employers who think there must be something wrong with someone who has been unemployed for so long.
And there are other costs.
As journalist Bill Moyers reports, “Harvard economist Lawrence Katz estimates that the expiration of benefits for the long-term unemployed is costing the economy $1 billion per week.” Others estimate the cost to our economy at $400 million a week. Whichever figure is correct, that means the cost of extended unemployment benefits is already offset by what the program contributes to the economy.
Economists confirm that money spent on such programs goes directly into the economy. After all, what else are the long-term unemployed going to do with the money? Save it? Obviously, they spend it. They use it to pay for food, gasoline, utilities and other necessities. It’s not enough to allow them to live comfortably. But it helps. And that money stimulates other portions of the economy. It contributes to sales taxes. It contributes to the profits of local businesses which, in turn, pay income taxes on the money. As a result, the money finds its way back into federal, state and local governments as revenues.
It’s a win-win. It’s taxpayers paying it forward to help their struggling neighbors. Anyone who would say otherwise is cruel and heartless.
Oh wait! I just described today’s GOP.