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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Remember when conservatives thought that slashing unemployment benefits would help people find jobs and reduce their dependence on the government? Not surprisingly, they were dead wrong. A recent EPI report shows that cutting benefits not only didn’t save states money, but it also didn’t do anything to help reduce unemployment.

In 2013, eight states reduced the number of weeks for which people were able to receive jobless benefits. North Carolina took the cuts even further by reducing the amount that recipients were paid each week. This made them ineligible for the national Emergency Unemployment Compensation system, making it even harder for North Carolinians without jobs to get back on their feet.

But their politicians didn’t seem to be too concerned about them.

“What this really should be called is a re-employment rather than an unemployment bill,” said Republican state senator Bob Rucho, who sponsored the measure. “We’re trying to put North Carolinians back to work.”

Republican governor Pat McCrory concurred, claiming that the reductions were the “lone factor … [that] has helped North Carolina lower its unemployment rate drastically” in comparison to other states.

But the EPI report finds that the cuts in these states actually “did very little to change their fiscal condition.” They did hurt those still looking for work, however. Unemployed workers lost an average of $252 per week, while states only saved 37 cents per covered worker.

The shortened benefits didn’t improve unemployment in these states, either. The study found “no visible improvement” in the employment of workers ages 25 to 54. It also found that even North Carolina’s particularly severe cuts to unemployment insurance led to no visible job growth.

These cuts affected African-Americans the most, as they make up a larger share of workers in the eight states that shortened the length of unemployment benefits than in the rest of the country. As the study points out, African-Americans are “largely overrepresented among the long-term unemployed.”

The EPI report concludes that “states that decided to cut the available duration of jobless benefits appear to have made a political decision more than a fiscal one.” It dismisses these states’ arguments that “extended unemployment benefits are to blame for extended high unemployment,” because there is no proof that increasing the number of weeks that people receive aid makes them less likely to search for jobs. Instead, these states are still struggling with unemployment because employers aren’t able to hire as many workers. The EPI suggests that, in the future, states should do a better job of funding uninsurance trust accounts when the economy is doing well, so they’re better prepared when the unemployment rate goes up.

“There’s no evidence of any benefit to reducing the length or dollar amount of unemployment insurance when the economy is so weak,” EPI Research and Policy Director Josh Bivens said in a press release. “It’s hard to understand why states would shoot themselves in the foot like this.”

You can read the full EPI report here.

Photo: James Willamor via Flickr

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  • Daniel Jones

    It’s very simple–they want the unemployed to die.

    • Independent1

      I’m not sure I’d go as far as to say that Republicans “want the unemployed to die” but it’s clear from the legislation that red states pass that GOP legislators are more concerned about ideology than they are about the constituents they are supposed to represent. And the fact that 24 red states have refused to extend Medicaid benefits when there are projections that from 7,000 to 17,000 people in red states will die prematurely this year because of that – makes it clear too that Republican legislators don’t appear to really care if their decisions do in fact result in people dying prematurely. Clearly, Republicans are more concerned about being able to say that they’ve balanced their budget (an ideological idiocy) than they’ve done something to help someone live a better life – or even something that actually keeps people from dying.

      • Grannysmovin

        There are the “Death Panels” Bachman and Palin have been ranting about – they are in the 24 red states that refused to extend Medicaid.

      • … I’m not sure how else to take it however, especially when it’s w/in the power of the Congress to CRIMINALIZE taking the almost $20 trillion dollars now in foreign banks, when that SAME MONEY could be in U.S. banks, HELPING U.S. BUSINESSES, employing MILLIONS of OUT OF WORK American’s, instead of talking about how ‘lazy’ they are, when there are NO JOBS to be had, because the dead imagination of a failed Republican Congress refuses to see an opportunity to ‘impeach’ climate change, instead of the hardest working, most sabotaged President in the nations history. Read what Republicans won’t ( & ask yourself that question again, if Republican don’t want just the poor, but all of us to die – just for a piece of that $20 trillion?!

        • Independent1

          I sure can’t disagree that it doesn’t look that way – and you and Daniel may be right. My sense is though, that today’s Republicans are simply acting upon what the worst president ever, whom they idolize, Ronald Reagan brainwashed the party with: that the rich are entitled to be rich and to suck up all the money they can, even if that’s at the expense and lives of the peons.

          Republicans today are so infatuated with Reagan’s trickle-down fantasy, that it clearly matters not to them at least a couple things: 1) that they’re infatuation with money and sucking it up may mean that many of the less fortunate end up dying and 2) that their fantasy is built on the premise of anti-diminishing returns – that somehow the middle class and poor have an inexhaustable source of money that they can forever suck up.

          When in reality the 1-5% are rapidly approaching the time when the middle class and poor are going to be so broke, that their kingdoms are going to collapse like a house of cards!!!

          • Again, there are far larger, more critical issues at play here & these are what ABSOLUTELY MUST be focused on leading up to the election. Approaching 90 days for this election, we’re coming to the realization that more portions of the Earth of barren & lifeless – because of our irrational culture of consumption. We have it in our hands to save ourselves & the time is done for debate. We see what needs to be done. If Republican conservatives won’t help in THAT process, they have no business being in the way of it GETTING DONE meanwhile. They have to go & we must keep them out until the job of saving our Democracy & our planet is well under way. This is off topic, but China has, this year, cut its CO2 emissions (see by using simple filtering tools in use by our own industries. W/the $20 trillion in off-shore dollars held hostage by the rich & corporations, we could advance these technologies further, or come up w/state-of-the-art batteries that are recyclable &/or biodegradable, to power autos, homes & industry. W/the potential death of the worlds oceans (, we’re out of time for debate or negotiation. The time for action has in fact passed, so the road has been made that much hard, by waiting for Republicans’ & conservatives’ “better nature” to make an appearance! It won’t b/c they have none & they have no business in our Liberal/Progressive, Constitutional citizen-governmental interactive, if all they do is impede it… We’re all mature & wise enough to understand that one simple fact if nothing else!

      • plc97477

        I would say the rousing applause at the republican presidential debate when they were asked about someone who needed health care would say otherwise.

        • Independent1

          Yeah! and it didn’t appear too Christian either when during a debate in North Carolina, Newt Gingrich said something to the effect: “You know what we do with our enemies? We kill them!!” And the audience jumped to their feet and cheered.

          Real nice bunch of heartless humans!! And clearly nothing like true Christians.

  • Dominick Vila

    I suspect that most establishment Republicans understand the need for investment as an essential element to achieve economic growth and job creation. The problem is that the rhetoric from Tea Party supporters, and their influence on GOP decision-making, makes it impossible for them to abandon the centerpiece of TP rhetoric: cut spending to achieve fiscal stability.
    The idea of asking Americans to pay for what we benefit from and need, is sacrilege to what passes for conservatism in America. As a result, the only option is to cut benefits, but only those that benefit the infamous 47%. Subsidies to corporations, including multi-nationals owned by investors from Saudi Arabia, Germany, and China are just fine for them. Helping the elite accumulate more wealth than they already own (2/3 of our national wealth), is fine for those who depend on their donations to prosper. Loopholes, looking the other way when some of the wealthiest members of our society benefit financially from the availability of foreign tax shelters, including foreign investments, is perfectly fine for those who have it all. Ridiculously low tax rates for the wealthy is fine. The only problem involves evil concepts such as helping those who, often because of reasons beyond their abilities, are unable to find a job, helping those who depend on SS and MEDICARE to survive, helping poor elderly people who depend on MEDICAID to pay for nursing home care, subsidies to poor Americans who cannot afford to pay high health insurance premiums, and just about anything that helps the infamous 47%. Viva the oligarchy!

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    Doesn’t the GOP first have to come up with a Jobs Creation plan before the unemployed can BE employed?

    You guys missed the most wonderful speech yesterday by the Congresswoman from NY to the GOP…she let them have it.

    Those who are still unemployed lost jobs in customer service, tech service, manufacturing and accounting because the GOP bulls refuse to admit those jobs went overseas in 2001 the minute Bush handed them billions to “hire and create jobs.” Bush just never said “where” the jobs were being created.

    The GAO in 2005 reported that of those companies who took that Hire and Create Jobs funding in the tens of billions, 1% actually hired or created jobs.

    If the GOP is trying to show Americans how they “wastefully spend” our tax dollars, their doing a bang up job of it. The NY Congresswoman slammed them in their kissers yesterday during that panel on the GOP’s impeachment. She presented factual numbers. And what do the innoculated of the GOP say? “Obama has exceeded his executive power.” If he did, they can thank Bush who claimed in 2003 he had “extraordinary executive powers in a time of war.” Now the GOP is saying “no war has been declared.” So this precedent doesn’t apply to THIS president. BS BS BS

    • Allan Richardson

      They have this magical faith that by not taxing the rich, not even the crooked rich, the jobs will appear. History shows it working about as well as the prayers for fire of the 700 priests of Baal when challenged by the prophet of JHVH (who probably used phosphorus powder to start his fire). But they keep doing it out of insanity. Of course, their voter base consists of the same people who believe that God tripled the total amount of water on Earth in 40 days, keep the entire surface under 5-6 extra miles of water for several more months, then made the extra water disappear into nothing, got all the species on Earth into one boat, made the Earth stop rotating (talk about angular momentum!) so one army could win a battle before sunset, and many other magical things.

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        What I saw as a Republican for 33 years was an astounding lack of sensitivity for real issues Main Street encounters every day. It was as if the GOP bulls simply had no ability to realize what the impact would be of their Draconian cuts, attempts to dismantle programs and generally act only in the best interests of money power vs. government power. What I saw and heard was the most disgusting power plays that would make the 1900s Robber Barons jealous. What I now believe is that because the current president threatened “change,” that became the GOP’s declaration of war. They don’t want change. They want a population controlled entirely by lack thereof. From that lack of change, the GOP manages to exact their money power.

        • dana becker

          Me too that is why I am no longer a Republican.

      • ralphkr

        Actually, I was told that God did not stop the rotation of earth but DID stop the sun from continuing to revolve around the earth until they had won the battle.

    • ralphkr

      But, Eleanore, the GOP does have their very own Jobs Creation plan. Cut off unemployment benefits to force people off their hammocks and to work. Cut the minimum wage so employers can hire more workers for the same amount of money. (As a former employer I must say that if I only have enough work for ten people that I am not going to hire more people to do the same amount of work even if it costs no more) Cancel SS & Medicare & Medicaid to force the lazy retirees and the sick to get jobs to survive. Actually, the GOP real reason to cancel SS is to be able to turn over the SS fund to their buddies on Wall Street to drain with fees and commissions.

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        Employers today get exactly what they deserve from American workers…ZERO respect. What if the government passed a law that refused to allow price increases to businesses who don’t provide annual cost of living increases? What would the greedheaded employers whine about then? “Boooo hoooo…My offshore tax free bank account and Wall Street investments aren’t make me an instant billionaire so I can retire at age 50?”

        I was an office manager and worked with CEOs. Unless you’ve had the extreme misfortune of sitting in on their “ Executive” Board meetings, you can only imagine the skankola these guys pull off.

        Today’s Americans work longer, harder and for less than they did back in 1971. All while skank employers continue to spiral the cost of their goods and services out of the realm off affordability for the part-timers they now exclusively hire.

        This is the reason I firmly believe it’s time to cut off business tax subsidies to employers who refuse to provide cost of living annual income increases. If they want to jack the prices on their goods and services…fine…but they don’t get a dime of their employees’ tax dollars.

  • gmccpa

    “Remember when conservatives thought that slashing unemployment benefits would help people”
    Interesting opening line. Does anyone believe that the present day RW was – or is – concerned about helping people. And ‘thought’? As if they will now see the facts and change their opinion. I mean, did they give up on trickle down economics? Or tax cuts for the wealthy? Or corporation? Corporations are extremely profitable. Stock market has soared since Jan 2009. Yet, they still push corp tax cuts and bemoan Govt regulation. They care not about the actual effects….they have an agenda to stick to.
    They still ‘think’ unemployment benefits should be cut. Same with Medicare and social security. Facts do not matter to them. Every proposal, plan, or so called solution, they come up with….falls on the backs of the lower and middle income people. Accepting that these cuts are not working would only undermine their agenda.

  • jointerjohn

    These assholes have only one goal in mind, starve the American worker into working for $3 per hour, no OSHA, no nothing but sweatshops owned by their wealthy donors. It’s as simple as that.

    • Allan Richardson

      Even better for them $3 per DAY.

    • … but isn’t that why we have elections? What else is our Democracy for, than for consensus to be arrived at & do what with it? Complain? Curse our afflictors? John F. Kennedy said it’s better to light a match than to curse the dark… These people have a dark, hideous, monstrous soul, and would rather eat our flesh than allow us to share the potential that our Democracy offers – that Citizens United gave them the RIGHTS TO BUY away from the open access COMMONS where it WAS COMMONLY SHARED!!! That one statement typifies why it’s so hard for people to think thru all that has occurred since 2001 – frustration & anger work in their favor. As a cooler, calmer people, we’re able to, as James Madison implored in the Federalist, craft a state that supercedes the allure of ‘factionalism’ & pettiness. We’ve been ‘lured’ in to the worst of our human nature, thanx to conservative pettiness & childish in-fighting. It’s now up to us to maturely EXCUSE THEM FROM THE ROOM of state, while we adults get about the business of repairing the damage they have wrought these last 51 years… & YES – Johnson was in fact, a CONSERVATIVE… for those who can count…

      • jointerjohn

        You are quite right! Yet in the states that have held primary elections so far this year none have yet managed see 25% of eligible voters turn out. This is how the right can highjack the country using the 15% crazy bastards amongst us. Sadly, the enemy is us.

  • Wisconsin voters have alot of explaining to do, as a result of another uncovering of the realities of life Republicans have again tried to hide from the American people!!! If there are no jobs, there ARE NO JOBS!!! But w/nearly $20 trillion – yes – TRILLION – dollars parked in off-shore bank and investment accounts, Republican office holders (I REFUSE TO consider them representatives, much less leaders!!!) refuse to address ‘THAT’ reality, instead opting to punish & beat-up on working class & poor American’s whose only fault or defect is having grown old, were victims of the Reagan/Bush educational mismanagement disasters & that they have voted injury to themselves by voting Republican, when they knew the potential & the history of being devastated by Republican policies, yet AGAIN!!! Paul Ryan has this talent for insights as to how to fix the faulty values of the poor. It’s time we, as voters fix the faulty value systems of Republican & their rich & corporate puppet masters, by voting OUT every Republican/conservative & replacing them w/Liberal/Progressive candidates & re-electing Liberal/Progressive office holders, who legislate according to OUR Liberal/Progressive Constitution – the way our government was intended to be run…

  • midway54

    The current Republican Party is now hugely populated by rightwinger political scoundrels, rotten to the core, whose mission is to see to the ongoing comforts of our Gilded Age II plutocratic robber barons and their corporations that own and control the Country’s economic, political, military and financial sectors. Utopia for them will have arrived when the people are convinced that the American Way is to fend for ourselves in all circumstances and keep government and its programs out of our lives. The ignorant redneck yahoos and pathetic dupes, deluded by the right wing propagandists into believing that it is un-American and almost treasonous not to cheer this magnificent (overseas) job-creating crowd as our true patriots working to rid our Christian Nation of all those lefty big government Democratic communists, socialists, and atheists that are destroying America, and consequently will as always and dependably run off on election day blindly to fornicate themselves by voting rightwing scoundrels into office.

  • BOC

    So, Conservatives are still confused about the mechanisms of economic recovery. Funny, they seem to have this same hang-up when it comes to PPACA.

    They can’t get past wipe-out the middle class which includes the majority of them as well.

    Talk about ‘Russian-Roulette’.

  • ExRadioGuy15

    gmccpa: the Fascist and psychopathic Cons actually SAY that slashing unemployment benefits would help. They KNOW it’s not true, which is one of many reasons I can correctly call them psychopaths.
    Those of us who possess intelligence and sanity knew cutting unemployment benefits would be a bad idea. The Cons knew it would be a bad idea, but they don’t care, something that psychopaths do…..

  • ExRadioGuy15

    I dunno how many times I must write this before people, especially people who consider themselves Moderates and Progressives of the GOP, start to believe it as the truth it is.. Here it is, again:
    GOP Cons are Fascist psychopaths;
    GOP Tea Partiers are Fascist sociopaths;
    GOP Libertarians are Fascism-suborning sociopaths.
    Those three wings of the GOP, whom I correctly refer as the lunatic wings of it, make up the minority of the party’s voters but represent nearly ALL of the politicians…..
    Until GOP Progressives and Moderates realize those sad truths and act accordingly, aka, vote for Democrats because the Demos truly represent them now, more of this psychopathic and sociopathic activity will continue to rule politics, and not just in DC, either.

  • Tony Torres

    But somehow they get elected/re-elected. I can not fathom why some people vote against their own welfare. We must vote these IDIOTS out of office,where they can no longer try and destroy our USA.

  • “Remember when conservatives thought that slashing unemployment benefits would help people?”

    No, we don’t. We remember when they CLAIMED they would help people, but they never once thought there might have been any truth to such claims.

    The truth is that the Republicans have known from the start what would happen if they cut benefits, but pushed to do so anyway for one simple reason: The shallow hopes that the unemployed would all either wind up in prison or starve to death before they could vote for Democrats in November.

  • idamag

    Business depends on consumers. People who have no money spend no money. When everybody prospers, everybody prospers. However, when a few make billions on the backs of their workers and then resent paying them wages, it hurts the economy. It is fine and dandy to tell oneself that the poor are poor because they are lazy, but it is not true. I know minimum wage people that work harder and longer than anyone. If the jobs are in China, there are fewer jobs available here.

  • RobertCHastings

    An adequate income for everyone, whether by unemployment benefits or a living wage or any other means benefits us all. When fully a fifth of this country cannot buy anything except the essentials, it is no wonder we are still lagging in rebuilding our job base. It takes money to buy the goods that are necessary to produce jobs. This picture does not operate the other way around.

  • Jim Myers

    There is the possibility that the Ultra-rich really do want our Nation to become a third rate country.

    Just think of the distribution of wealth in some of the most desolate countries on earth.

    Africa has extremely high levels of natural resources, and yet it is also home to some of the poorest Nations on earth.

    Mexico has an abundance of people willing to work for very low wages, and yet, there are millions who have fled to the United States, and elsewhere, because of the poverty and violence created by the drug cartels and weak law enforcement.

    These are only a small selection of areas where wealth distribution favors the extremely wealthy and powerful, while everyone else suffers.

    This is where we are headed. And the rich and powerful will not be happy until we have finally “Arrived.”

  • dana becker

    I am sure they will call it a success anyway.


    They could repeat this failed experiment a hundred times and never learn a thing from it. In any event, this was never about actually making the country any better. This was about politicians beating up on the politically powerless, because they could.

  • jamespowell

    It isn’t about helping unemployed people. It isn’t about employment. It’s about stimulating cruelty in hard economic times. It’s about diverting anxiety and anger away from the ruling class and toward the victims. And in America – the I, Me, Mine Nation – it works every time.