A tribute to the 99ers: We are not invisible.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nothing new, what do we do?

The next 10 days could get very interesting. Finally there is buzz (other than Ed Schultz and the unemployed) about extending benefits beyond 99 weeks. Much to my surprise the Republicans are part of that buzz. The Republicans want unfunded tax cuts and privatization of Medicare and Social Security. While I wouldn't turn down benefits they might put through, I'm not holding my breath either. Many of the Democrats would like to provide relief to those that have exhausted their benefits. It's good economics and the right thing to do. Unfortunately neither Senator Reid, Speaker Pelosi or President Obama have spoken about additional benefits beyond current limits. A picture paints a thousand words and their silence is deafening.

Extending unemployment benefits beyond 99 weeks should have already been accomplished. No one would be breaking new ground, there is historical precedence when either party held the White House or Congress. Sometimes these extensions were funded, sometimes they were emergency (added to the debt) appropriations. This is were bold leadership is required.

Prior to passing the recent extension funding, Democrats attempted to offset the expense with cuts to Medicaid and food stamps. The $25 weekly stimulus funds were also removed and not part of the final bill. Medicaid and food stamps are safety nets for people with minimal income in the same manner that unemployment benefits are safety nets for those that have been unable to find reemployment. Extending unemployment while reducing other safety nets accomplishes nothing. It merely shifts the burden to another group with limited representation. It's a cowardly way of doing business. If the extensions are going to be part of the budget (they should, with 5 seekers for every job this won't be solved quickly) new sources of revenue (new or greater taxes, yikes) must be found. I have ideas which will be part of another post.

What do I suggest? Stop counting on the kindness of others. Elected officials need voters more than voters need elected officials. We (the UNEMPLOYED voters) need to recognize, internalize this fact and act accordingly.

1. Stay abreast of happenings that effect the (long term) unemployed. Open Congress is a great way to track legislation.

2.Michael Thornton and Donalee King are two of many that do a great job of simplifying Congressional language and talking about 99er issues. Subscribe and stay knowledgeable.

3. Get involved now. The Unemployed Workers Action Group and Unemployed-Friends have specific campaigns right now. There are multiple petitions on Change and Care2. I am trying to organize our efforts here and at Facebook. Participate on your behalf. Patience is poison.

This may not be too hard but it's not simple. It is easier than living in a box or feeding your kids at a soup kitchen. 99ers know this because they are living it. They may not be telling their stories because they no longer have the capability. It is up to you and me to act for them and for ourselves. Either we swim together or we certainly sink alone. I am off to find my Rabbi and ask why the clergy appear to be silent about impending homelessness.

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