Like so many unemployed I was alerted to Sen. Stabenow's sponsorship of the "Americans Wants To Work Act" on "The Ed Show" via Twitter. I even claimed TV priority over my kids to watch. All in all I was hoping for more, but I was pleased that benefits beyond 99 weeks were combined with a jobs initiative. After all, as one of the long term unemployed, I would prefer working to unemployment benefits.
The bill is a good start but only a beginning. The bill will pass mid-September at the earliest. 99ers started losing benefits spring, 2010 and they need help today or sooner. Estimates put the number of those without benefits at over 5 million before any help arrives. 20 weeks of benefits are great because it carries through November elections to the lame duck session of Congress. An additional extension will certainly be necessary; the jobs part of the bill will not eliminate rampant unemployment in 20 weeks. Senators and Representatives are more likely to vote "compassion/ common sense" when two years away from an election. Finally, what will be the cost to obtain necessary votes. There are 59 "Democratic" Senators. Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders are independents that caucas with the Dems; Ben Nelson is (your words, try to keep it clean this is a G-rated blog) ???? This bill did not wait until 3 days before recess due to lack or awareness. There was not and has not been enough Democratic support for TierV since May. The jobs creation and unemployment benefits may be vastly different from what Sen. Stabenow is proposing.
What to do? Take the negatives and make them positive. I realize that for 99ers or soon to be 99ers, positives are impossible. These people are not falling through the cracks, they are falling off a cliff. It is profoundly sad. I have no answers, so I return to taking action. Stay aware. Mike Thornton and Donalee King provide daily insightful updates. Stay active. Congress.org has great tips and a full contact list. Stay calm. It's much easier to solicit help if you are strident, not angry. Stay focused. The unemployed want to work. Until sufficient jobs are created unemployment benefits are a safety net. Retribution through voting (or not) will wait. Stay energized. The 99es energy claimed the attention of Ed Schultz. His daily appeal on behalf of the 99ers moved Senator Stabenow. Stay involved. The Wall Street Rally on August 12 needs support. "America's 99ers: The Forgotten" must be shown to more people. Other projects will arise,like this on Facebook UBO21C. If I appear to consistently return to the same theme, I do. Participation is crucial. This is our moment, we can be part of history. If we fail, we are history.