Thursday, June 23, 2011

Walker & Darling cruelly betray Wisconsin's hard working people

It is outrageous that 10,000 unemployed Wisconsinites have lost their unemployment compensation benefits because Governor Scott Walker and Joint Finance Committee co-chair Alberta Darling have done nothing to collect $89million in federally funded jobless benefits.

All that is required to secure these federal dollars and provide extended benefits to the unemployed is a small change in state law.  The change would have absolutely no impact on the state's struggling unemployment insurance trust fund or the state's deficit. But it would provide 13 more weeks of benefits to workers who have been without employment for roughly a year and a half and promote economic growth and job creation in the state.

While refusing the $89 million in federal extended unemployment benefits, Walker and Darling have led the legislature in passing legislation forcing the unemployed to wait a week before becoming eligible for unemployment which will take $50 million out of their pockets and the Wisconsin economy.

Why haven’t Walker and Darling who campaigned on a platform of jobs, jobs, and more jobs and orchestrated almost $600 million in corporate and investor tax breaks in this budget acted?

The New York Times suggested they were refusing the money because of ideological reasons. And that certainly is one factor. But another is that both of these career politicians are the agents of the Wisconsin corporate community that wants to use the jobless recover to drive down wages of Wisconsin’s working people by forcing the unemployed to accept any job at any wage in an unforgiving labor market.

Despite skilled labor shortages in certain sectors, Wisconsin, like the nation, has a jobs deficit, not a labor shortage. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Wisconsin has 126,000 fewer jobs than it did before the recession began. Nationally there are 4.6 workers for every job. Wisconsin’s numbers mirror the nation.

Yet some Wisconsin business leaders think that Wisconsin’s unemployed workers would rather sit at home and collect unemployment checks than work.

They are dead wrong.

Over the past year, the Wisconsin unemployment rate has inched downwards by 1.4 percentage points. But this decline can be explained in part by some workers dropping out of the labor force as they have become discouraged by prolonged unemployment. As a result they are no longer considered unemployed. Just last month professional services, financial firms, restaurants, hotels, and city and county governments cut jobs. More job cuts are on the way as a result of the cuts in state aid for public schools and local government.

Walker claims that the $89 million won’t create jobs. On this he is dead wrong. Mark Zandi, an economist who works for both political parties, has documented that extending unemployment benefits is one of the most effective policies government can employ to promote economic growth and job creation. Its economic impact of 1.63 is almost five times greater than cutting corporate taxes or capital gains taxes, policies both Walker and Darling have pushed through the legislation.

Extending unemployment benefits is good economic policy. It is also the decent thing to do.

Literally thousands of hard-working, tax- paying Wisconsin workers and their families have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. They want to work and cannot find work. Many have lost their homes or are in danger of losing their homes. It is not only bad for the economy to deny the unemployed these benefits it is also a cruel betrayal of Wisconsin’s values and the state’s hard-working people.It is in a word immoral!


Anonymous said...

I won't cry if something terrible befalls these heartless devils!

Anonymous said...

Spoken like a true compassionate person who really cares about others.

If you want to see a heartless devil, look in the mirror.

the other side of the coin said...

Mark Zandi. Is he the economist who said housing prices would bottom in 2009?

And why is unemployment rising if the Great Recession ended in July of 2010 according to Zandi?

When will you realize that Keynesian economists are usually wrong?

Here is another view:
The extension of unemployment insurance is yet another ill-considered Keynesian solution that fails to factor in production as the driver of all economic activity. As such, it will not work.

To understand why it must be understood that unemployment insurance is merely coerced redistribution of wealth from productive workers to those sidelined. As a result, increased benefits are a disincentive for those working while seeing their wealth redistributed, and for those handed the fruits of the productive efforts of others, they too have reduced incentives to work for their idle status being rewarded.

Second, every dollar that the unemployed are handed for being unemployed tautologically raises the price of luring the unemployed from the sidelines. If benefits work out to $1,000/month (closer to $1,600 for Wisconsin), that $1,000 represents the extra cost for employers of getting the able-bodied back to work. Unemployment benefits merely redistribute wealth with no productive end result, and for raising the cost of bringing individuals back into the workplace, they specifically retard economic growth.

So do it for compassionate reasons, but don't try to justify it using "economic" theory.

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