Monday, May 16, 2011

Rep Joe Crowley Fights Republican Effort to Cut Unemployment Benefits for Millions of Americans

Today, Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), a Chief Deputy Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives, spoke out during the Ways and Means Committee’s consideration of Republicans’ H.R. 1745. This legislation would end the guarantee of federal unemployment insurance, resulting in over 4 million Americans losing their extended benefits this summer unless states provide coverage for them. Over 270,000 workers in New York are currently receiving these emergency benefits.

Crowley’s remarks as prepared are below:

For over 100 days of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, we have heard nothing but tick-tock as we awaited a jobs bill.

And now, they tell us they have a bill – it’s even named the JOBS Act.

Well, the tick-tock is being replaced by a cuckoo clock, because I’m not seeing the jobs in here.

What is their great plan to help the economy? Cutting off emergency unemployment benefits.

I’m not sure how that is supposed to create jobs or grow the economy, especially since economists have repeatedly shown that unemployment benefits help stimulate the economy.

But the Republicans would end these benefits.

Now, they say that States can choose to keep funding unemployment insurance, on their own, if they want to.

But some states are cutting even the standard 26 weeks of benefits – do we really think states are going to be able to shoulder the federal government’s responsibility?

That’s too much to burden the states with during these difficult times.

This is a federal program that Congress has consistently voted to extend in order to help those out of work through no fault of their own.

Many of my colleagues on this committee voted for the law that extended these benefits through the end of this year.

And now, you want to cut short that promise.

You might remember this law as the one that also extended tax cuts for the richest Americans – as long as Republicans are looking to break their promises, maybe we should cut short the extension of the tax cuts, too.

So I ask my colleagues, what will you say to those unemployed workers in your district who will find their benefits cut off much sooner?

Are you going to tell them that they’re not trying hard enough to find work, and that’s why you’re adding in redundant job search requirements?

Are you going to tell them that they have to stop ‘living large’ on the federal government’s dollar, since as I’m sure we’re all aware, the average unemployment benefit reaches a whopping 70% of the poverty line for a family of four?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t tell that to my constituents, because it’s just not true.

Every week, I hear from workers in my district who have been looking for work, who rely on these federal benefits and who continue to face the difficulties of an economy that is just beginning to recover.

The policies put into place by President Obama and Democrats in Congress have created 2 million new private sector jobs over the past 14 months, but there are still fewer jobs than before the recession began in 2007.

At the same time, Republicans have cut job training programs, assistance to dislocated workers, and job creation programs like the TANF Emergency Fund for states to use.

How are these cuts helping workers? I suppose just like this bill does – it only helps them know who is on their side and who is not.

This is not a jobs bill.

I guess we will continue the tick-tock of waiting for a true jobs bill, but in the meantime, this bill is just cuckoo.”