Congressman Paulsen Poised to Block Unemployment Insurance That Helps Middle Class Families – Even As He Protects Special Interests

With a bipartisan majority of U.S. Senators advancing a measure to extend unemployment insurance, Congressman Erik Paulsen and Republicans in Congress are poised yet again to block a popular, commonsense measure that would bring financial peace of mind to middle class families – even as they fight to protect special interest tax giveaways.

In fact, the priorities of Republicans in Congress are so flawed that they are leaving 1.3 million Americans who are looking for work without a way to provide for their families.

After voting down the highly-popular minimum wage increase last year, Congressman Paulsen and Republicans in Congress are now poised to turn their backs on a safety net that gives middle class workers peace of mind when they lose their jobs through no fault of their own. USA Today wrote yesterday that: “the reality is that the job market is still bad enough — especially for people who have been out of work the longest — that it is simply cruel to cut off help now. Cruel and senseless, because the benefits are a modest but effective way to help nurse the economy back to health.”

“Once again, even as Senate Republicans support extending unemployment insurance, Congressman Paulsen is turning his back on middle class families, refusing to extend the benefits that provides Americans peace of mind and that supports our economic recovery – even as he protects his special interest allies,” said Emily Bittner of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Congressman Paulsen kicked 1.3 million Americans off of unemployment insurance over the holidays, and he has done nothing to help create jobs that would put those Americans back to work. This is yet another case of Congressman Paulsen’s misplaced priorities – going to bat for special interests like Big Oil, but blocking commonsense solutions that help grow our economy and support the middle class.”

BACKGROUND

Due to Inaction, 1.3 Million Americans Lost Jobless Benefits, Potentially Cutting 300,000 New Jobs in 2014. “An emergency federal program that acts as a lifeline for 1.3 million jobless workers will end on Saturday, drastically curtailing government support for the long-term unemployed and setting the stage for a major political fight in the new year. The program, in place since the recession started in 2008, provides up to 47 weeks of supplemental unemployment insurance payments to jobless people looking for work. Its expiration is expected to have far-reaching ramifications for the economy, cutting job growth by about 300,000 positions next year and pushing hundreds of thousands of households below the poverty line. An extension of the unemployment program did not make it into the two-year budget deal that was passed just before Congress left on its winter recess. When the federal program expires, just one in four unemployed Americans will receive jobless benefits — the smallest proportion in half a century.” [New York Times,12/27/13]

  • Headline: Unemployment Benefits Lapse Severs Lifeline for Longtime Jobless [Bloomberg News, 12/29/13]