House GOP: you're doing it wrong
From The Hill's reporting on the House GOP's proposal (which includes an extension of the payroll tax cut):
The bill extends for one year the 4.2 percent rate for the payroll tax enacted in 2010, down from its typical 6.2 percent. It extends unemployment insurance benefits while gradually reducing the length of time they can be claimed from 99 weeks to 59 weeks in a two-step process.
The measure also requires beneficiaries to continually search for work and participate in re-employment services. And it allows states to require drug testing as a condition of receiving unemployment benefits.
One question before we go point-by-point: when did the GOP decide that keeping a tax cut in place was a bad idea? What makes this tax cut different than the others they propose?
First: by reducing the number of weeks, you're making the problem worse, not better. As of October, there are about 983,000 people who have been out of work for 60-98 weeks, and another 1.9 million who have been out for 99 weeks or longer. The 99ers have already exhausted insurance benefits - and now the GOP wants to pull that lifeline away from another million people?
Second: people who receive unemployment insurance benefits already have to be actively searching for work:
"An individual who files for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits must meet specific eligibility requirements before benefits can be paid. Individuals must:
- Have received enough wages during the base period to establish a claim.
- Be totally or partially unemployed.
- Be unemployed through no fault of his/her own.
- Be physically able to work.
- Be available for work which means to be ready and willing to immediately accept work.
- Be actively looking for work.
- Meet eligibility requirements each week benefits are claimed.
- Be approved for training before training benefits can be paid.
Third: drug-testing? Why is it that the GOP is so hell-bent on kicking people when they're down?
"Several studies, including a 1996 report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, have found that there is no significant difference in the rate of illegal-drug use by welfare applicants and other people. Another study found that 70% of illegal-drug users between the age of 18 and 49 are employed full time.
"Drug-testing laws are often touted as a way of saving tax dollars, but the facts are once again not quite as presented. Idaho recently commissioned a study of the likely financial impact of drug testing its welfare applicants. The study found that the costs were likely to exceed any money saved." (source)
The House GOP's bill demonstrates their tax-cutting for the rich hypocrisy, attempts to legislate their "punish the poor" morality, and tries to hold the middle class (who benefits most from the payroll tax cuts) hostage to the interests of the rich.