Eric LaMont Gregory
The national average unemployment rate is 9.5%, nonetheless there is still debate on whether to extend unemployment benefits. Due to the state of our economy, federal law had allowed the usual safety-net of 26 weeks of unemployment insurance coverage to be extended to 99 weeks.
The 99 week extension expired in June, and Congress has failed to pass an additional extension. This means that those whose benefits end after June will not have an extension.
Arguably, there is some legitimate controversy over how to fund an extension, and whether or not it is effective in aiding the economic recovery. Nonetheless, Republicans blocked the passage of an extension, arguing that the money should come from the stimulus package already passed for economic recovery, and on suggestions that the extension of unemployment benefits would add to the deficit, which according to Republican lawmakers would hurt the economy in the long run.
These are the same lawmakers who jumped at the chance to bailout those Wall Street institutions which held their own assets, while allowing the savings of ordinary Americans to dwindle. There was no buyout at 100% of assets for these ordinary investors.
Ultimately, in an economy where two-thirds of all economic activity is driven by consumer spending, our lawmakers will come to realise that creating jobs is necessary unless they want to prolong the recession.
While, Congress contemplates a new stimulus measure, perhaps they will give some thought to the fact that the banks that now hold taxpayer bailout money are buying dollars short, which is not in the best interests of the American economy. How much money does The Fed want to accumulate in the hands of these investors before we allow the unemployment rate to fall accompanied by a modest rise in interests rates.
None of the polite arguments of economic policy, approach, or strategy can obscure the fact that Americans are hurting, there is real economic pain in many American communities.
And, it is the responsibility of those in leadership positions, many of whom will not attend a session of Congress without first having attended a prayer meeting, to live up to the true meaning of their creed.
Let’s put America back to work now and put measures in place that will assure long term success, but it is inherently unjust to balance the perceived evils of inflationary pressure by keeping Americans unemployed, with the pain that brings to many many American communities.