Tell your legislators that they must extend -- without any harmful provisions -- both the unemployment benefits and the reduction in payroll taxes through 2012. The continued high unemployment rate is draining our nation’s resources. These economic boosts are critical.
The extension of unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed, and the reduction of payroll tax were signed into law on December 23, 2011. However, this law only lasts until February 29, 2012. Assistance to eligible long-term unemployed workers would end in the week ending on or before March 6, 2012. The payroll tax reduction would end at the same time, increasing the tax paid by all employees by two percent. This would make it increasingly difficult for low- and middle-income families to meet their responsibilities.
In December, competing House and Senate bills were considered. With pressure to get home for the holidays, Congress agreed to the Senate bill – the two-month extension. A conference committee was formed and they are trying to agree on legislation to extend both provisions through 2012 by coming to some compromise between the House and the Senate versions. Historically, unemployment benefits have been considered emergency spending, and did not require offset savings. However, in the current congressional climate, offsetting spending is required.
The House bill contains provisions that are cruel and would be devastating to most people in need of unemployment benefits.
There are other “offsets” or tax proposals being considered for this legislation, which will continue to be considered for any other spending bills. See the chart of NETWORK’s assessment of these.
BENEFITS OF UI AND PAYROLL TAX REDUCTION TO ALL OF US
The UI benefits and the payroll tax reduction help not only the individual worker (and her/his family) but also our nation’s economy. Those without income are far less likely than employed workers to spend money, even on necessities. Allowing these benefits to expire, once again, places even more of our neighbors at risk of food insecurity, and of joining the ranks of the homeless. The stress of being out of work has devastating effects on psychological health and is shown to lead to abuse in the home and other violence.
Almost 50 million people in this wealthy nation live in food-insecure households. Of these, over 16 million are our children! Hunger has devastating effects on children’s health, development and the ability to learn. Presently, three million Americans go without shelter every night; approximately one quarter are children. We are damaging the future of our nation, draining hope as well as energy, health and intelligence from future generations. We must not add to that number.
Our faith traditions call us to care for those in our societies who are most vulnerable, those least able to provide for themselves and their families. The lack of jobs in both the private and the public sector are making it impossible for many who seek work, to find meaningful employment.
Legislators must act now to extend the unemployment benefits and reduction in payroll taxes through 2012 in the form of a clean bill, without harmful provisions.