Virginia Republicans to unemployed workers: drop dead

That's pretty much the meaning of the House of Delegates vote last week to reject the changes needed for Virginia to receive an additional $125 million of the unemployment insurance modernization funds from the Recovery Act.  (Virginia already has an alternative base period in place, so we automatically get the first $62 million.)  They claim it's because the expansion of benefits would cause taxes on business to go up in the long run.  What they don't tell you is that the Recovery Act provides enough funding to cover the costs of this expansion for 18 years!

Specifically, the two provisions that they shot down last week would have expanded eligibility to people who are only seeking part-time work (because after all, if you only work part-time, your family must not really need the income, right?) and provided extended benefits to people who are training for a new job (because what the 21st century economy really needs is lots of unskilled labor). 

Here's a video of Tim Kaine's reaction and here's a petition to express your outrage

7 Responses to “Virginia Republicans to unemployed workers: drop dead”

  1. amy Says:

    Elizabeth, I’m really not in favor of expanding unemployment anywhere at this point. For any reason. Not even to make me eligible (I’m not, because I’ve been a contract worker; my major client will close its doors May 18th at the latest). Not because I’m afraid of the taxes on business, but because we seem to have lost sight of the fact that there are real and ugly consequences to running those printing presses the way we have been. You want poverty, that’s a terrific way to get there. So I am greatly in favor of _stopping_ this business of handing out bucks to those who are not in fact starving, dying, or homeless.
    I’m in favor of seeing that we catch as many of the destitute and seriously troubled as we can, and I support the COBRA initiative (even though it doesn’t help me, and even though I pay full freight for COBRA). But most of us will get jobs. We’ll be nerve-wracked, we’ll spend savings, but we’ll get jobs. So wait — don’t run those presses until it’s clear who cannot make it, and how much they need to get by.
    As for “job training” — well, color me skeptical. I’ve been involved with various forms of ed for long enough now to see most of it as a tremendous scam. In fact I just walked away from an adjunct spot at one of those large, well-advertised 1-800 “universities” that promise career training and links to new careers — the place was nothing more than a giant vacuum cleaner attached to the Treasury. There’s no interest in education or training there, it leaves thousands of ruined no-hopers in its wake, and half the people they collect would be better served by having some teacher of the 1950s come in and make them learn to read and write. They don’t need “training” in criminal justice, and I sure as hell don’t want them being “trained” to be my future nursing assistant.
    As for part time work: As much as I’m in favor of creation of prorated part-time salaried jobs, and breaking that stupid union lock on fulltime jobs for Mr. 1967 Macho, the fact is that yes, when we need the money — as in gotta have the money — we go out and work fulltime or more. The only exceptions I know are people who are caregivers to infants and disabled kids, and very ill adults at home; single parents of tiny children with zero backup, and others who for one reason or another cannot buy caregiving services and have no family nearby. That’s not a lot of the population. For the rest, part time is a choice. May be good reasons for the choice. But it’s a choice.
    My kid’s five; I’m a single, custodial parent with no family within a thousand miles. I haven’t worked in an office since she was a baby, and I’ve made a point of working part-time most of my life, but a few weeks ago I applied for a fulltime job, nice salary/benefits, good and secure, that would more or less guarantee 60-hour weeks and a Blackberry strapped to me. I’ve got a fair shot at it. Why’d I do it? Because it hit me there’s another 13 years to go, minimum, and that’s a long time for a setup this rickety when there’s a kid involved. Now, our school district does not provide after-school care or transportation to after-school care; local childcare/activity providers don’t do transportation, either, and hired drivers are expensive and unreliable here. So for the last year I’ve worked around school drop-off and pick-up times. Obviously, this isn’t compatible with fulltime work. I’ve had enough of this, so I’m working with the principal and school bus co. on setting up a reliable, private charter service for afterschool. If it goes — and I think it will — then problem solved. Off to fulltime work I go, if I get this job or another like it.
    Is any of this fun or nice or good for me like vitamins, no, of course not. It sucks ass. But I am real clear on the meaning of broke, and, Elizabeth, as a nation, we’re broke. We’re still living in the nice house and quietly selling the silver out the kitchen door, but we’re flat busted. And I’m also aware that serious inflation can happen here and can demolish an economy fairly quickly in a way that makes the last several months look like a hangnail.
    I think this is really the thing I’m knocking my head against when talking to social-services or generally lefty people now — I do not think you guys really believe that “The United States is broke,” is a possible sentence. Whether it’s just or fair how we got here — I think this is really beside the point for the moment. But we do need to turn off the presses, or things can get much, much worse.
    I know of only one way of fixing this problem, and that’s for us to start making and selling things to the rest of the world again. As much or more than we buy. This is not something that will flourish here under govt direction, and it can’t last if it’s only a result of strongarm trade negotiations. We actually have to make and sell things others want and can buy. The rest is screwing around and a phenomenal waste of time.

  2. urbanartiste Says:

    I think extending unemployment benefits is to prevent people from being pushed out on the streets. As for COBRA, the expense is evidence that we need a national healthcare system. On a side not, it takes 5 healthy people to subsidize one sick person through the current healthcare insurance industry we have now; we need a single payer system. Having family members out of work for over a year due to the fact that many businesses are laying off and not hiring makes me in support of extending unemployment benefits. People can’t find jobs due to the economy, not lack of ambition. I know quite a number of former full-time workers, particularly from Wall Street, that are working part-time jobs because that is all that is out there. Part-time work is not always a choice.
    As for education or retraining, I am not sure if the programs that people need immediately are out there. The prop. u. industry is a scam because the are for-profit, but the community college or continuing ed programs are vital. As an adjunct, I have taught many returning vets from Iraq on computers and it has been a lifeline in getting them a new career path. It just takes time to retrain for a career.
    Creating new manufacturing and selling to the rest of the world is a great concept, but I highly doubt China will be altering their trade agreements any time soon to benefit the U.S. The U.S. is broke and we have been living on credit. The prosperous external image we display is a mirage hiding all the crumbling infrastructure of our nation.
    Top priority should be supporting the people and not assessing society with individualistic blinders.

  3. liz Says:

    I’m still in shock that they turned this down. They, Rust included, really showed their brainless, heartless, and cowardly natures.

  4. amy Says:

    “Creating new manufacturing and selling to the rest of the world is a great concept, but I highly doubt China will be altering their trade agreements any time soon to benefit the U.S. ”
    That’s exactly the point. We cannot wait around for trade rounds to sculpt markets for us. We have unusually honest and well-educated people here, and we have capital. But we aren’t using what we’ve got, and it disturbs me greatly to wander around the blogosphere hearing the cream of the crop sitting around, making up schemes based on the idea that a (mysteriously) prosperous nation should (somehow) support everyone. It can’t work. The money doesn’t exist unless we get it from somewhere else. And the only way to get it is to hustle. People have to want to buy our stuff. Currently they don’t.
    _Some_ people rely on unemployment benefits to avoid being pushed out on the streets. Others would survive without them. As I mentioned, I don’t get unemployment, never have. And yet I manage not to get pushed out on the streets (generally by going out, sans “funemployment” vacation/dithering, and getting another job). Actually I found out recently that I’d been eligible for unemployment about a year or so ago, but hadn’t thought of it. Made no difference.
    So I say wait. Wait to see who — despite the Treasury refi plan, despite expanded food stamp benefits — actually needs the help. And then be mighty damn stingy with it. Not to be mean, but because we don’t have the money. You can say “top priority is supporting the people”, but you have to have something to support the people _with_, and currently — as you say — the US is broke. That means “supporting the people” cannot be the priority. The priority will have to be getting back on our feet financially, and the only way there is trade. Mama gots to go out and work. Then we can talk about supporting the people.

  5. urbanartiste Says:

    I would like to know how “mama gots to go out and work” if no one is hiring? Those self-employed closest to me say that the banks are closed in the loan department. So how are the “unusually honest and well-educated people” supposed to start creating the products others will buy? The entire system is destroyed and for many reasons. I can’t blame the little guy looking for a little support when the supposed well-educated with bad judgement at the top is getting most of it. But maybe I should start judging people based on my own experiences.

  6. amy Says:

    Urbanartiste, “Mama gots to go out and work” means “The US cannot go on printing pretend money to pay for social services. Doing that is an excellent way to damage the currency and with it the economy, not to mention piss off rich foreign creditors with armies. We have to load up that basket and go sell things abroad. When we’ve done that, when we’ve become competitive again and are actually making money, then we can spend more at home on unemployment.”
    As for this particular self-employed mama, she’s not only refinanced her mortgage (sans Treasury plan) but has been swimming in mostly-unsolicited interview and job offers the last two months. I turned one down because the job basically involved robbing poor people and the Treasury, but others are for real. And today I had a bid accepted that’ll keep us housed and fed through ’09; it’ll give a friend a sweet cv line, too. I have room for one more job in the schedule over the next two months and after that I’ll be able to pass them along. The really exciting job, though, is not interviewing yet, will probably be a few weeks before they start calling people. But I think I have a good shot at an interview, and possibly at the job. Meantime yesterday I saw another one that looks good & reasonable. Halftime with full benefits, careerwise would take me in a direction I want.
    I don’t blame the little guy for looking for a little support either, btw. But broke is broke. It’s a truly pissy thing, but most of those people will manage to keep housed and fed without our running the presses more. They will find or make jobs, and in the meantime they’ll spend savings, grow gardens, get frugal, barter. All of which I’d been setting up to do. I’ll still be digging my garden tomorrow and hardening off the seedlings over the next few weeks. Sunday is still baking day.
    The entire system is not destroyed. Devaluing the currency is not a bad way to kneecap it, though.

  7. Elizabeth Says:

    In the scale of the billions that we’re handing to the banks in the hope that the credit system won’t collapse, the funds for expanding UI benefits are peanuts. If the Chinese decide to stop lending to us, we’re screwed, but that’s true whether or not we keep a bunch of people in their homes. And I don’t think they will, because they couldn’t do it fast enough to avoid losing all their money that they’ve invested already.
    Amy, I watched Kit Kittridge too, and it’s nice to get nostalgic about taking in boarders and raising chickens. But homelessness, malnutrition, untreated chronic disease, increased domestic violence, etc aren’t so much fun. I’m glad that you’re swimming in job offers, but there’s a lot of people who are the end of their rope.

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