REPORT: 3.3 Million Will Lose Unemployment Insurance Under House GOP’s Payroll Tax Bill
House Republicans passed their version of a payroll tax cut extension last night, but not before adding a litany of spending cuts and changes to federal programs that they knew Democrats would never accept. The GOP, which still refuses to tax a relatively small number of millionaires to give an extra $1,000 a year to the average middle class family, included cuts to Medicarebenefits and the Affordable Care Act and froze federal worker pay for an additional two years.
But as ThinkProgress reported last week, the bill also targets the unemployed, reducing eligibility for unemployment insurance from 99 weeks to 79 weeks. Eventually, the plan will reduce that eligibility down to 59 weeks — and when it does, it will kick more than 3.3 million unemployed Americans out of the program, according to data from the Department of Labor.
In just four states — California, Florida, Texas, and New York — more than 1.25 million will become ineligible for the program. In each of five other states — North Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Illinois — more than 100,000 people will lose their eligibility.
Across the country, Republicans have chosen to paint unemployment insurance as a “lifestyle” that creates laziness among those who use it just to get by. The GOP ignores that there are, on average, four applicants foreach open job, decrying the unemployment insurance program for incentivizing joblessness, even though those who are eligible for the program remain out of work only 1.6 weeks longer than those who aren’t eligible.
Unemployment insurance, meanwhile, remains one of the strongest economic stimulus tools available to the federal government, as recent studies have shown that failure to extend them would cost the economy $57 billion in the first three months of 2012. That amounts to a loss of 0.38 percent of GDP, equal to the rate at which the economy grew in 2011.
Ten congressional Democrats joined Republicans in voting for the misguided plan. In the eight states they represent, nearly 886,000 people would become ineligible for unemployment insurance, led by the 584,000 that would lose benefits in Rep. Dennis Cardoza’s (D) home state of California. You can see the full state-by-state breakdown here.