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Monday, February 28, 2011

Required reading for the 99ers

I would encourage all of our fellow advocates to take the time to read each of the articles below. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, emails and faxes all have their purpose, but we need to make sure that we're not wasting our efforts. If our goal is to advocate effectively in order to get legislation like H.R. 589 passed, it's vitally important that we use the right tools for the right job.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Economic Populist: Corporate Profits Soaring Thanks to Record Unemployment

In a January 2009 ABC interview with George Stephanopoulos, then President-elect Barack Obama said fixing the economy required shared sacrifice, "Everybody's going to have to give. Everybody's going to have to have some skin in the game."

For the past two years, American workers submitted to the President's appeal - taking steep pay cuts despite hectic productivity growth. By contrast, corporate executives have extracted record profits by sabotaging the recovery on every front - eliminating employees, repressing wages, withholding investment, and shirking federal taxes.

The global recession increased unemployment in every country, but the American experience is unparalleled. According to a July OECD report, the U.S. accounted for half of all job losses among the 31 richest countries from 2007 to mid-2010. The rise of U.S. unemployment greatly exceeded the fall in economic output. Aside from Canada, U.S. GDP actually declined less than any other rich country, from mid-2008 to mid 2010.

Full story here

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Unemployment Benefits: Extend Them or End Them?

The Root's Cynthia Gordy interviewed Congressman Bobby Scott for blogging the beltway, on the matter of H.R. 589:


"It's a matter of priorities," Congressman Bobby Scott told The Root in an interview, measuring recent tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and wealthy estates against cutting off aid for the long-term unemployed.

"You cannot disconnect the budget struggles we're having today from the tax cuts from two months ago. If you spend $800 billion over two years, and then say, 'We're broke and have to cut spending,' there's a connection. When you have no money and compassion for hardworking Americans who are struggling because the jobs don't exist, but you just had money and compassion for dead multi-millionaires, it just seems to be a warped sense of priorities."


The takeaway quote from the congressman:

"It is inappropriate to discontinue someone's unemployment compensation when the jobs aren't there"

Please read the full article.

Friday, February 18, 2011

TGIF: Dancing Goat!

Have a nice weekend, everyone.

Business Insider: 19 Scary Facts About Getting A Job In America

Gus Lubin and Robert W. Johnson report on some of the daunting challenges out-of-work Americans face today:
"Americans say unemployment is a bigger crisis today than at any time since Reagan, according to Gallup.
"Although hiring is improving, that improvement is gradual and the outlook for many Americans is bleak. Especially the record number of 99ers, the baby boomers with no money saved for retirement, the college debt slaves who can't get a job, and the factory workers who don't have skills for the new economy.
"Getting a job today means going up against terrifying odds."
The full list of challenges, including the statistics that show just how tough the job market is for the long-term unemployed, is something we need to communicate to Congress.

Plant A Row To End Hunger

Please take a moment to watch this message from Kim Doyle Wille, the tireless advocate for the hungry, the impoverished and the 99ers (among others)

She's doing amazing work, and could use your support. She's a finalist in a contest sponsored by the AARP. Vote for Kim and her "Plant a Row to End Hunger" idea: it takes just a moment. Please and thank you.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

C-SPAN Coverage of Reps Lee and Scott on EUC Extension Amendment to CR

Representatives Lee and Scott on the House floor speaking on behalf of their amendment to the Continuing Resolution (CR) to extend EUC benefits by an additional 14 weeks. The language of the amendment is the same as that of H.R. 589, but the amendment fell to a point of order because it did not comply with the House Rules for amending the CR.

It's not immediately clear why Lee and Scott offered this amendment. The rules were published well in advance of last night's debate, and as of today, H.R. 589 has not gained any Republican co-sponsors.

Ali Velshi: 99ers are forgotten recession victims

CNN's Ali Velshi has been a strong voice on behalf of the 99ers, and in a guest post on the Parker/Spitzer show blog, he explains how the number of the day is 99:

"While our political discourse is consumed by talk of continuing resolutions and deficits and a potential government shutdown over the coming weeks, remember the solution to our economic future lies in a properly equipped, well-educated and gainfully employed population.

"Leaving these millions, jobless because of a recession they didn’t cause, is neither fair nor economically viable.

"A solution to extend benefits for those who are worst off, and a longer term solution to retrain them to compete for the jobs of the future must be part of the immediate solution that Congress and the White House work out."

Guest Post: How to Put America Back to Work - by Jean SmilingCoyote

Please note: originally posted on OpEdNews, this post is republished here with the kind permission of the author.


"Uncle Sam" picture by James Montgomery Flagg,
(work in the public domain), words put
in his mouth by Jean SmilingCoyote

Long-Term Unemployment Must be Ended First

It is more urgent to end long-term unemployment than it is to increase the total number of jobs in America. If unemployment were distributed equally, everyone in the workforce would be unemployed for only the percentage of each year corresponding to the official unemployment rate. We could tolerate this financially. Most importantly, the economy would be better off for all.

There are three ways this country can do this.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

H.R. 589 - Lee and Scott Letter To House Leadership

REPRESENTATIVES LEE AND SCOTT, IN LETTER, URGE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP TO ALLOW EMERGENCY AID FOR LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYED TO BE OFFERED WITH CONTINUING RESOLUTION

Democrats Call on Republican Leaders to Allow Emergency Benefits to Long-Term Unemployed Workers to Be Included in Budget Legislation; Bill Would Help Millions of Americans Make Ends Meet and Stimulate Economy

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Congressman Robert Scott (D-VA) penned a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Rules Committee Chair David Dreier this morning requesting that the Republican leaders allow H.R. 589, a bill to provide emergency benefits to long-term unemployed workers, to be offered as an amendment to the Continuing Resolution on the FY 2011 Budget. The bill has 62 Democratic co-sponsors, including Lee and Scott, and would extend emergency benefits to millions of Americans while stimulating our nation’s economy.

In the letter, Lee and Scott cite the high level of unemployment across the nation and the lack of jobs available for job seekers. Lee and Scott also cite the positive economic impact of extending these benefits to long-term unemployed workers – claims that are supported by groups ranging from the Congressional Budget Office to the Economic Policy Institute.

Full text of the letter is available below.

Full Text of Letter:

February 15, 2011

Dear Mr. Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, and Chairman Dreier:

We write to express our deep concern for the 13.9 million unemployed workers across the country, and especially the 6.2 million long-term unemployed who are in need of immediate assistance. We respectfully request that you allow our bill, H.R. 589, The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Expansion Act, to be brought to the full House for a vote either as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution with an emergency designation, or as a free-standing piece of legislation.

With a high unemployment rate of 9 percent and 4.7 unemployed workers for every job opening, it is incumbent upon us to provide unemployed workers and their families with the relief they need to get through the current economic crisis. That is why we have introduced H.R. 589, which adds an additional 14 weeks to the current emergency unemployment compensation program.

While we all recognize the importance of fiscal responsibility, we equally recognize the need to address this state of emergency before millions of people go into poverty. Additionally, several economic experts, including the Congressional Budget Office, have reported that unemployment benefits stimulate the economy because unemployed workers pour money back into the economy and contribute to growth and job creation.

Our unemployed workers are in a state of emergency and desperately need assistance. Again, we strongly urge you to bring this bill to the floor for a vote and allow it to be considered as an amendment to the continuing budget resolution or as a free-standing bill.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Barbara Lee
Member of Congress

Robert C. Scott
Member of Congress

###

NELP On Discrimination Against The Unemployed

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is holding hearings this morning, and one of the issues they're considering is discrimination against the unemployed.

Laura Bassett at The Huffington Post reported on the issue in June of last year:

Still waiting for a response to the 300 resum├ęs you sent out last month? Bad news: Some companies are ignoring all unemployed applicants.

In a current job posting on The People Place, a job recruiting website for the telecommunications, aerospace/defense and engineering industries, an anonymous electronics company in Angleton, Texas, advertises for a "Quality Engineer." Qualifications for the job are the usual: computer skills, oral and written communication skills, light to moderate lifting. But red print at the bottom of the ad says, "Client will not consider/review anyone NOT currently employed regardless of the reason."

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) is presenting testimony at the hearing, and the text has been posted online. Selected highlights:

"In sum, there is a disturbing and growing trend among employers - honored by staffing firms - to refuse to consider the unemployed for available job openings, regardless of their qualifications. This refusal is often explicitly manifested in job ads that include restrictive language specifying that only currently employed candidates will be considered; or that no unemployed candidates will be considered, regardless of the reason for unemployment; or no candidate unemployed for more than a certain period (e.g., six months) will be considered. Employers or staffing firms questioned about such ads typically pull the ads or delete the exclusionary language, but that does not signal that they will not apply the exclusion in the selection process. Even more insidious, staffing firms and recruiters are aware of and honor employers' preferences for candidates who are currently working, sometimes explicitly acknowledging to unemployed candidates that they are doing so but more often than not, simply not providing the reason the candidate will not advance through the process."
"The critical first step toward addressing this disturbing practice of shutting unemployed workers out of jobs is happening today - exposing the practice, exploring its legality, calling out employers and staffing firms that engage in it, and educating the public about its devastating impact on workers who need jobs, their families and communities. Excluding unemployed workers from employment opportunities also has serious negative consequences for the economy overall, increasing personal indebtedness, bankruptcies, and foreclosures; destroying credit; and diluting America's storehouse of human capital. Raising public and policy-maker awareness of this practice is thus both timely and critically important."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Ed Show: Laid-off accountant describes unemployment struggle

Before watching this clip from The Ed Show, keep this in mind: Senator Kyl is on record stating his belief that unemployment benefits are a disincentive to find work. If he were right, the 99ers would not exist: we'd find work after those disincentives ended. Over 1.7 million 99ers are proving the Senator's belief to be mistaken.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

H.R. 589 - Time For Us To Act

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, at the press conference to announce H.R. 589:

"We're not going to just sit around for the next two years and do nothing," Lee said. "We have the president, we have the Senate, and we have many Republicans who have 99ers, chronically unemployed, who live in their districts. And I think when they hear from the people who this affects, who are their constituents, I have to be hopeful there's some sense of morality there."

Two comments from the bill's introductory post are worth your attention:

"I live in Connecticut and can't believe I don't see any of my reps cosponsoring this bill."
"I am not only emailing, etc. my Congressman, I have requested an in person meeting with him. … I won't sit still for this."

It's time for us to act.

  • First, we have to find out if our representatives are co-sponsoring this bill. If not, we need to engage them.
    • Send an email to your Representative. Use the contact form on their website.
    • Make very sure they understand that you are a constituent - your voice carries much greater weight as someone who holds the power of the vote.
    • Quoting from Congress.org:
      When you're writing Congress, remember to tell your story — explain how this issue is affecting your life in personal terms. You speak for hundreds of other voters who didn't take the time to write, so choose your words carefully. And avoid ALL CAPS!
    • Send a fax. Prepare a one-page note that tells your story. Address it to both the Representative and their Legislative Director: you can find contact information on CongressMerge.
    • Follow up with a phone call. Call your Congressman's local office first, then call their DC offices.
  • Second, engage the media. We've seen what works: human interest stories that exemplify the larger issue. Think back to people like Peter in Fremont, Bud in Las Vegas and Dawn in California
    • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper - keep your note short and to the point. Tell a compelling story that leads to a call for action.
    • Reach out to your local TV and radio stations.
    • Use FaceBook, Twitter and other social media.

Those of us with representatives on the House Committee on Ways and Means have a stronger voice - H.R. 589 was referred to Ways and Means after being introduced, and the bill won't advance unless the committee reports it out.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

H. R. 589

H.R.589 (text - PDF)

Latest Title: To amend title IV of the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 to provide for additional weeks of first-tier emergency unemployment compensation, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] (introduced 2/9/2011)
Cosponsors (47)

Latest Major Action:
2/9/2011 Referred to House committee.

Status:
Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Ed Show: Help Is On The Way For The 99ers

Reps. Bobby Scott and Barbara Lee to Introduce Legislation for Unemployment Compensation Exhaustees

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (VA-03) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-09) introduced legislation in the 112th Congress to expand unemployment compensation for those hardworking Americans who lost their jobs during the historic economic recession and have exhausted their unemployment compensation benefits. The legislation – Emergency Unemployment Compensation Expansion Act – will add 14 additional weeks of unemployment compensation to Tier 1, making it available to all unemployed persons regardless of the unemployment conditions in their state.

Congressman Scott and Congresswoman Lee introduced a similar version of the legislation at the end of the 111th Congress, but it did not reach the House floor for a vote. Congressman Scott and Congresswoman Lee are re-introducing the legislation in hopes that it will receive the bi-partisan support necessary to help those unemployed Americans most in need.

Here is some important information about the legislation:

  • Provides 14 additional weeks of emergency unemployment compensation to Tier I.
  • Adding these 14 extra weeks to Tier 1 makes them available for all those who are chronically unemployed, and not just those who are currently collecting unemployment benefits from a "high unemployment state."
  • The additional benefit will be available for all unemployed persons who have exhausted their benefits as well as those who will be unemployed this year.
  • This unemployment compensation expansion is similar to the expansion that was passed and signed into law in November 2009 which provided an additional week of benefits to Tier II.

"The Great Recession has been devastating for so many American families," Rep. Scott said. "Not only will this legislation help these hardworking Americans make ends meet, it will stimulate the economy. According to the Center for American Progress's recent report on the impact of the recession, economists estimate that the U.S. economy grows by $1.61 for every dollar the government spends on unemployment compensation because unemployed persons usually spend all of their benefit payments quickly. Put simply, unemployment compensation is one of the most efficient and effective ways to stimulate the economy."

"Millions of workers across the nation, many of whom live in my district, are experiencing a true state of emergency," said Representative Barbara Lee. "Our bill would ensure these long-term unemployed workers get the long overdue assistance they need to support their families, make ends meet and contribute to our economy. The Republican leadership has given a lot of lip service to creating jobs for our working class, but they have yet to even produce a plan. Now they have a chance to support emergency relief to millions of working class people who can contribute to our economy as they fight to support their families. I call on Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor to bring this to a vote on the House floor as soon as possible."

###

Crew of 42: Lee + Scott on 99er Unemployment Extension

The Crew of 42 YouTube channel has additional coverage of today's press conference.

The chart that Congressman Scott was referring to shows the ratio of the unemployed to the number of job openings: the Great Recession has seen that number reach historic highs.

The Congressman referred to this table in citing the multiplier effect of unemployment benefits:

Economic Category/ActivityGDP Growth
Tax Cuts 
Nonrefundable Lump-Sum Tax Rebate1.01
Refundable Lump-Sum Tax Rebate1.22
Temporary Tax Cuts 
Payroll Tax Holiday1.24
Job Tax Credit1.30
Across-the-Board Tax Cut1.02
Accelerated Depreciation0.25
Loss Carryback0.22
Housing Tax Credit0.90
Permanent Tax Cuts 
Extend Alternative Minimum Tax Patch0.51
Make Bush Income Tax Cuts Permanent0.32
Make Dividend and Capital Gains Tax Cuts Permanent0.37
Cut in Corporate Tax Rate0.32
Spending Increases 
Extending Unemployment Insurance Benefits1.61
Temporary Federal Financing of Work-Share Programs1.69
Temporary Increase in Food Stamps1.74
General Aid to State Governments1.41
Increased Infrastructure Spending1.57
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)1.13
Notes 
1. The bang for the buck is estimated by the one-year dollar change in GDP for a given dollar reduction in federal tax revenue or increase in spending.
2. The bang-for-the-buck estimates are based on simulations of the Moody’s Analytics econometric model of the U.S. economy.
3. Source: Moody's Economy.comPDF link

Monday, February 7, 2011

Representatives Barbara Lee And Bobby Scott To Introduce Bill To Provide Benefits To Long-term Unemployed

February 7, 2011

For Planning Purposes Only

CONTACT:
Joel Payne, Lee, (202) 225-2661
Larry Dillard, Scott, (202) 225-8351

Lee and Scott to Stand with Economic Policy Institute and American 99ers Union; Unemployment Benefits More Stimulative to U.S. Economy than Millionaire Tax Giveaways

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congressman Bobby Scott will join Gregg Rosen of the American 99ers Union and Dr. Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) to introduce The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Expansion Act, legislation to extend emergency benefits to long-term unemployed workers. Many of these long-term unemployed workers, known as 99ers, have exhausted their benefits and need this assistance to support their families, make ends meet and contribute to our economy. The bill would provide 14 weeks of emergency unemployment benefits to people who have exhausted all their benefits and are still unemployed.

Not only is providing these benefits the right thing to do, but it is sound economic policy that will support our economic recovery. Economic experts, like Dr. Shierolz from EPI, believe that extending these benefits will have a greater stimulative impact on our economy than handing unpaid-for tax giveaways to multi-millionaires.

WHO:
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-09)
Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03)
Gregg Rosen, Co-Founder, American 99ers Union
Dr. Heidi Shierholz, Economist, Economic Policy Institute

WHAT:
Press Conference

WHEN:
Wednesday, February 9, 2011, 9:45 a.m.
Any media with cameras are asked to pre-set at 9:15 a.m.

WHERE:
Capitol Visitors Center, HVC Room 200

# # #

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Busy Week Ahead

99ers, we have a busy week ahead. A Facebook group is coordinating a call-in event on Tuesday, Representatives Barbara Lee and Bobby Scott are announcing legislation at a press conference on Wednesday, and the House Committee on Ways and Means is holding hearings on Thursday.

Monday - Tell A Compelling Story

The House Committee on Ways and Means is holding hearings on Thursday, and it's up to each of us to include our statements for the record.

We've seen how one person's story, whether Peter in Fremont, Bud in Las Vegas, or Dawn in California, can focus media attention on the plight of the 99ers. Now, it's your turn. This is your chance to make your voice heard. This is your chance to tell a compelling story.

From the hearing advisory: "any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing."

The more of us who can submit a statement, the better. The instructions for submissions are easy to follow, but follow them to the letter: if not, the committee might refuse to include your submission.

We have until the close of business on Thursday to send out submissions. Get started today.

Tuesday - Group Call-In Event

The Facebook group Extend Unemployment Benefits is calling on all interested parties (this means you) to phone their representatives and urge them to pass legislation in support of the 99ers.

As always, we recommend using the CongressMerge database to find up-to-date contact information for your representatives in the House and Senate. Please review the information in the "Congress.org - Advocacy 101" section of our website (sidebar, right) for tips on calling Congress.

At a minimum, please make your representatives aware of the efforts of their colleagues Barbara Lee and Bobby Scott, who will be re-introducing legislation in support of the 99ers on Wednesday. Ask them to co-sponsor the bill.

Wednesday - Lee/Scott Press Conference

The American 99ers Union announced last week that Representatives Barbara Lee and Bobby Scott will be holding a press conference to announce their reintroduction of a bill that will extend unemployment benefits by an additional 14 weeks. The benefits will be added to an existing tier, making 99ers eligible.

When we can confirm the time and place for the press conference, we'll post an update here.

Thursday - Hearing on Improving Efforts to Help Unemployed Americans Find Jobs

"Congressman Geoff Davis (R-KY), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Committee on Ways and Means, (today) announced that the Subcommittee will hold a hearing on improving efforts to help unemployed Americans find jobs. The hearing will take place on Thursday, February 10, 2011, in Room B-318 Rayburn House Office Building, immediately after a brief Subcommittee organizational meeting beginning at 2:00 P.M." (source)

The hearing will "focus on current policies and programs designed to help unemployed individuals return to work and how they can be improved." A live feed of the proceedings will be available.

Don't forget to email your submission to the Committee by the close of business today.

Friday

Time to get organized for next week: more calls and faxes to our representatives, tweets in coordination with the Twitter Action Committee and ways to reach out to local media.

It's going to be a busy week. Let's work as hard and as smart as we can to make it a successful one.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rep. Scott: No Extension Bill Yet

I've spoken with Rep. Bobby Scott's office just now: contrary to the story that appears in The State Column, the Congressman has not re-introduced unemployment extension legislation. The Congressman's office told me that an extension bill will come from Rep. Barbara Lee's office, and is expected in the next 1-2 weeks.