Simon Johnson on the vindictive absurdity of Republican plans to slash unemployment benefits:
The jobs crisis was caused by recklessness in the financial sector, made possible by irresponsible deregulation (including a period when Republicans controlled Congress and the White House) and resulting in enormous unconditional bailout protection for the bankers at the heart of the disaster (under both President George W. Bush and President Obama).
Let’s be generous for a moment and simply state that mistakes were made — on an enormous, macroeconomic scale with gut-wrenching consequences for families around the country. Why would anyone now seek to punish these people when they seek work but cannot get it?
In some parts of the Midwest, there are roughly four unemployed people for every job vacancy; the numbers are similar in many other parts of the country. Simply telling people to move is also not helpful — where exactly do you see hiring on a scale that would put a dent in these overall numbers?
Extended unemployment benefits provide on average about $300 a week — one-third of the average weekly wage and only about 70 percent of the poverty level for a family of four. If you strip even this money from people who remain out of work through no fault of their own, you will push more individuals and families onto the streets and into shelters. The cost of providing those fallback services is very high — and much higher than providing unemployment benefits.
How does it help any economic recovery when the people who lose jobs cannot even afford to buy basic goods and services — enough to keep their family afloat?
As they say, read the whole damn thing. Such questions may not concern some, but it should.