May 2010

From the Officers
index.html Home    Print    Email

Go to
Cutting the Unemployment Lifeline

Thousands of our members are sitting on the bench waiting for work. The last thing they want to hear is more bickering in Washington. They need action. With nearly 1.5 million workers exhausting their 99 weeks of unemployment insurance and nearly six jobless Americans lining up for every new job, members of Congress need to act. Fellow citizens are hurting and need help. And the economy can’t recover if they don’t have money to spend.

Unfortunately, some anti-worker members of Congress argue that it’s fiscally irresponsible to spend money on unemployment extensions without cutting spending elsewhere in the federal budget. They call themselves "deficit hawks."

The funny thing about those in Congress who want to grandstand about the cost of extending unemployment benefits is that most of them also want to extend George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. So let’s compare costs.

The unemployment extension would cost $35 billion. Extending the Bush tax cuts would cost $678 billion. This isn’t complicated. Real hawks see miles into the distance. But these guys see no further than their own selfish interest to keep campaign contributions rolling in from the wealthy.

If we want to rediscover the spirit of a nation that pulls together in tough times, we have to pay close attention to who is running for Congress in 2010.

In my book, we need more common sense candidates like Ben Leming, who is running for the House of Representatives in Tennessee. A U.S. Marine, Iraq War helicopter pilot and combat veteran, Leming told the Cookeville Times after his endorsement by the AFL-CIO, "My Grandpa, who was a strong IBEW union man, would be extremely proud of this moment." And Ben had something to say about unemployment insurance:

"A good job, close to home is a reasonable piece of the American dream and we’ve got a lot of out of work families that need help right now. Retooling America’s economic engine won’t happen overnight. If we don’t extend unemployment relief to these families, entire communities will suffer."

Compassion and common sense or hypocrisy and self-interest? These are our choices in 2010.


Also: Hill: Ensuring Another 75 Years of Social Security

Lindell K. Lee
International Secretary-Treasurer