Saturday, November 17, 2012

How much do unemployment benefits cost you? Less than $1.00 per day

This is now a recent conversation on Twitter ended:

And that got me wondering: how much does unemployment insurance cost the average taxpayer?

In general, the answer is zero: UI benefits are funded on a state by state level, through taxes paid by employers, not by individuals. But as a result of the Great Recession, the Federal goverment has had to fund the state programs. At the end of 2011, CNN reported that taxpayers spent $184.7 billion for the years 2008-2011.

Next question? How many taxpayers have there been over the same four years? Based on the 2012 Statistical Abstract from the Census Bureau, there were a total of 554 million Federal tax returns filed for the tax years 2007-2010, which are the latest numbers available. It's not an exact year-for-year match, but it'll be close enough for this estimate.

So: $184.7 billion in Federally-funded UI benefits, paid for by 554 million filers. That works out to roughly $333 per tax return, or, even more roughly, less than a buck a day. That's how much it costs you to help your neighbor, friend or family member find a job.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

NELP: Don't Push Jobless Americans Off The Cliff

NELP's latest report warns that 3 million jobless Americans will lose unemployment insurance in early 2013 if Congress fails to renew federal benefits: 2 million at the end of December, and another 1 million by the end of March.

"Congress has many important and pressing issues facing it during the lame-duck session. But Members must remember that protecting the unemployed is a non-negotiable responsibility, and to that end, they must ensure the renewal of the EUC program, and authorize a modest but effective investment in reemployment services for unemployed workers. Together, these actions will go a long way to aid the unemployed in returning to work and ensure a strong and broad-based economic recovery."

Two Million Workers to Lose Unemployment Insurance in December Without Action

From the House Ways and Means Committee Democrats:

"Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) and Human Resources Subcommittee Ranking Member Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) today released a report (PDF) prepared by the committee's Democratic staff detailing the importance of continuing federal unemployment insurance."

The report's conclusion?

"While federally-funded extended unemployment benefits have been significantly reduced over the last year, these benefits remain a critical support for Americans struggling to find work in a difficult economy. If Congress fails to act quickly, over two million workers will immediately lose this vital assistance a few days after Christmas. This would deal a devastating blow to already hard-hit families still looking for work as well as undercut the nation's economic recovery. Congress must act promptly to continue this economic lifeline."

Saturday, November 10, 2012


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Occupy Sandy: Mutual Aid, Not Charity

"Occupy Sandy is a coordinated relief effort to help distribute resources & volunteers to help neighborhoods and people affected by Hurricane Sandy."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Quote of the Day, Election 2012 Edition

"In a democracy, winners can govern only with the consent of the losers. Without that consent, there is gridlock at best and chaos and violence at worst."

Paul Glastris, writing in The Washington Monthly, quoting author Scott Farris.

We've lived through four years of "gridlock at best," because of GOP obstructionism. Let's pray that tonight's results can chart a new course, and a new comity, for our nation.

Monday, November 5, 2012

FYI: FEMA Housing Portal

Governor Cuomo Announces Federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance Now Available to New Yorkers Affected by Hurricane Sandy

Copied from Governor Cuomo's press office website

Governor Cuomo Announces Federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance Now Available to New Yorkers Affected by Hurricane Sandy

New Yorkers Who Work and Live in Bronx, Kings, New York, Richmond, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester Counties Can Apply

Department of Labor Staff to Deploy to Disaster Areas to Register Impacted New Yorkers

Albany, NY (November 2, 2012)

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that federal disaster unemployment assistance is now available to all New Yorkers who lost their jobs as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Disaster unemployment benefits are available to provide financial support to anyone who has lost their job and live or work in the Bronx, Kings, New York, Richmond, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester counties.

This assistance will supplement New York’s existing unemployment insurance system and will expand eligibility to include individuals who might otherwise not be covered. The United States Department of Labor has committed to providing additional assistance if needed.

"The physical destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy has been terrible, and the resulting job losses can be even more painful for New Yorkers," Governor Cuomo said. "These federal funds will quickly provide financial assistance to those whose livelihoods have been upended. I urge impacted New Yorkers to apply as soon as possible."

Department of Labor staff will be deployed to hard-hit communities to help register impacted New Yorkers for Disaster Unemployment Assistance in person.

Anyone unemployed due to Hurricane Sandy is immediately eligible and can submit a claim to the Department of Labor. The criterion for collecting disaster assistance is broader than for collecting regular unemployment benefits. Specifically, an individual can collect disaster assistance in any of the following cases:

  • Injured in the disaster and unable to work, whether the person is an employee or self-employed.
  • Workplace is damaged, or destroyed, or the person cannot work because of the disaster.
  • Transportation to work is not available because of the disaster.
  • Cannot get to work because must travel through the affected area, which is impossible due to disaster.
  • Planned to begin working, but cannot because of the disaster.
  • Derived most of income from areas affected by the disaster, and business is closed or inoperable because of the disaster.

Examples of self-employment include small business owners, independent taxi drivers, vendors, independent commercial fisherman, and farmers.

State Department of Labor Commissioner Peter M. Rivera said, "These people want to work and are unable to because of circumstances far beyond their control. This money will directly help workers who have families to feed and bills to pay. Contact the Department of Labor and we will determine which program you qualify for."

To apply for unemployment benefits or disaster unemployment assistance, those affected by the storm and have lost their job or income should call the Telephone Claims Center (TCC) at 1-888-209-8124, or 1-877-358-5306 if they live out of state. Applicants should answer the questions to indicate they lost their job due to Hurricane Sandy. In order to receive benefits you must apply by December 3, 2012.

Source URL:

Friday, November 2, 2012

NELP: Disaster Unemployment Assistance: How Workers Can Access the Program After Hurricane Sandy

From the National Employment Law Project: A fact sheet on federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance available in designated counties in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy.

Romney Style: How to Destroy Your Campaign's Credibility in Five Easy Steps

And if you haven't been following Steve Benen, who has been chronicling Mitt's mendacities, you owe it to yourself to take a look.

When the history of the 2012 elections is written, what is it going to say about a man who started his campaign with a lie, ended with one, and filled up pretty much every day in between with more of them?

Anatomy of a Smear; or, Dear Nan Hayworth: Aren't you Embarrassed to Approve This Message?

Disclaimer: the author has contributed to the Sean Patrick Maloney Congressional campaign.

In NY's 18 Congressional District, incumbent Nan Hayworth recently started running an ad against her Democratic opponent, Sean Patrick Maloney, attempting to tie him to Enron, the bankrupted energy company.

The connection is thin (two companies cross-marketing their products), but the Hayworth campaign and their supporters can't let facts get in the way of a good story.

Here's what you need to know:

After serving as White House Staff Secretary in the Clinton Administration from 1999-2000, Maloney joined a financial software company called Kiodex. Here's the Kiodex press release (PDF, accessed via Google Docs) announcing the move:

(NEW YORK; June 27, 2000) – Kiodex Inc., an online provider of technology-based risk-management solutions for the commodities markets, has named Sean Maloney as vice president and general counsel. Mr. Maloney will be developing and managing the company’s legal, regulatory and communications strategies.

"Kiodex is a revolutionary effort to bring greater fairness and efficiency to a critically important market sector," said Sean Maloney vice president and general counsel of Kiodex. "I can't imagine a better place in the private sector to apply the legal, regulatory and public policy expertise I gained working for President Clinton."

Mr. Maloney comes to Kiodex directly from the White House, where he was the youngest person ever to serve as assistant to the President and staff secretary -- one of the most senior and sensitive White House positions, involving direct, daily access to President Clinton. As staff secretary (a position formerly held by current White House chief of staff John Podesta and former Reagan/Bush adviser Richard Darman), Maloney managed the decision-making process in the West Wing; held exclusive authority to execute decisions on the President's behalf; oversaw a staff of more than 100 employees; and was the Oval Office gatekeeper of all material going to and from the President, including all national security information, domestic policy briefing and decision memos, appointments, executive orders, and legislation.

"We are extremely lucky to have Sean join the Kiodex management team," stated Martin Chavez, CEO of Kiodex. "The experience that Sean gained while at the White House is beyond comparison, making him the ideal leader for Kiodex's legal, regulatory, and communications strategies."

By November 2000, Maloney had been named Chief Operating Officer of the company. (press release packet, p.37)

Where does Enron come in?

Here, in a co-marketing agreement between Enron Networks (one of five divisions of Enron Corp) and Kiodex. What does the agreement state? That in exchange for letting Enron's customers use Kiodex's risk management tools on the Enron Online website, Kiodex would issue warrants to purchase shares of common stock to Enron.

Here's the announcement as posted to Business Wire:

"Kiodex, Inc., a provider of web-based risk management and trading systems, today announced the signing of a definitive agreement to market the Kiodex Risk Workbench(SM) in conjunction with EnronOnline."

"Under the terms of the agreement, EnronOnline customers will be able to calculate a basic set of risk management reports for all of their EnronOnline transactions in natural gas, crude oil and refined petroleum products. The reports will be generated by Kiodex's flagship software application, the Kiodex Risk Workbench(SM), and provided at no cost to the EnronOnline user. Customers requiring additional functionality from the Kiodex Risk Workbench(SM) will be able to access its features directly through a paid subscription to Kiodex."

In essence, Enron Networks is telling Kiodex: "Hi. We like your product. Can we put it on our website? We'll pay for the rights by buying some of your stock."

That's it. That's the brush that Nan Hayworth is trying to tar Sean Patrick Maloney with.

That's she's attempting to launch a smear this close to Election Day is bad enough - after all, these events happened back in 2001. If this line of criticism had any validity, her campaign would have brought it up much earlier than this. Maloney's primary opponents would have done the same... but no one did until now.

This attack looks and sounds like desperation - a "throw everything on the wall, and see if it sticks" attempt. Unfortunately for the Hayworth campaign, there's no there there.