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

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Abandoning the 99ers and receiving nothing.

As usual, the always relevant Donalee King was her eloquent mix of facts and fury on Thanksgiving. In synopsis, Donalee makes the case that everyone (I take editorial license to exclude Ed Schultz) from Sen. Stabenow to unions to advocacy groups to rally organizers have lied to the 99ers. The 99ers have been encouraged to lend their voice to every Democratic and unemployment cause only to have Tier V (or any talk of extensions beyond 99 weeks) excluded from last minute negotiations to extend unemployment benefits past November 30, 2010. She proposes lobbying the new Congress to strip NELP of funding as part of the presumed upcoming austerity program in January.  She continues by withdrawing her support from any extension that does not help the 99ers and concludes telling the Dems to grow a set and combine extending expiring tax cuts with long term extension of unemployment benefits beyond 99 weeks. It's hard to argue with Donalee but I do want to disagree at least in part.

I heartily agree with combining tax cut and unemployment benefit extensions in the way only a self promoting blogger can.  I suggested this combination on August 27, 2010. Extend long term unemployment benefits (including TierV, VI or Tier XX if necessary) for the same period as tax cuts for the ultra wealthy. The CBO reports unemployment benefits are 5 times more effective than extended tax cuts in creating economic production. Given this obvious logic I can only assume the conversation will still be about tax cuts with unemployment benefits being at most a footnote.  On that count, big thanks to both Congress and major media outlets.

I split with Donalee on her decision to "unsupport" the less than 99ers.  As a 99er, I can't understand Donalee's frustration but I am fully aware of my anger. As a 99er, I was able to cross each week off the calendar, fully aware when my unemployment safety net would end.  For those under 99 weeks of benefits, a sudden end (for example, tomorrow) is even more unsettling than being a 99er.  I speak from personal experience.  I went through the Congressional "June Swoon" when no one beyond 99 weeks received benefits previously approved.  The idea that unemployed planning on up to 99 weeks of benefits cut off at 26 weeks is as unsettling as the lack of support for 99ers.  Still, I can't agree on the actions of NELP, unions, etc.

Although flummoxed at the piss poor economic policy of not continuing unemployment extensions given the high unemployment rate and stagnant job creation the stupidity of Congress never surprises me.  If my advocacy groups must abandon my needs to serve millions of others I realize I might get left out. But NELP, AFL-CIO, Working America, One Nation Working Together and others have flushed me like blue ice and gotten nothing.  Don't jettison my needs without getting something for the rest of the unemployed.  At the end of the day I fear not only will I be left out (and me and my family are my primary concern) but so will everyone else beyond 26 weeks of unemployment benefits.  The war analogy fits here, don't make me a casualty for nothing.

On a final note, Donalee's Thanksgiving article ends with a description of her personal desperation. Donalee, don't give up, now or ever.  Your talent shines through. Any organization would be blessed to add your ability and passion.  Don't let short sighted idiots get you down, you are way too good for that.

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