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Hatch Calls Jobless Drug Addicts in Unemployment Benefits Battle

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While the filibuster continues and Congress argues whether to reauthorize Unemployment Insurance Benefits for people out of work longer than 6 months—some senators dub the jobless as lazy as Senator Hatch insinuates that the unemployed are actually drug addicts.

For the past several weeks, Republicans in the Senate have filibustered bills to reauthorize or reinstitute the hatchet job that extensions for Unemployment Insurance Benefits received a month ago. The jobless who were receiving those benefits for more than six months were previously eligible for an extension—but that’s been cut off, and Republicans say unemployment benefit reinstatement shouldn’t occur, because of the budget deficit.

Some Senators and both Republican and Democrat representatives have either stated or insinuated that they suspect extended unemployment benefits (past six months) discourages jobless people from looking for work.

Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) had said in March that Unemployment Benefits insurance "doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay [unemployed] people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work."

The problem is, for many, there aren’t jobs. Stats say Unemployment Benefits total only about 74 percent of the official poverty threshold for a family of four—and that five jobseekers exist for every job available. One-third of the nearly 15 million unemployed in the United States don't receive Unemployment Benefits at all.

Senator Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said in May that extended Unemployment Benefits undermine economic recovery because they "basically keep an economy that encourages people to, rather than go out and look for work, to stay on unemployment."

Representative Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) pushed to trim a domestic aid bill and issued statement that in light of four months of job growth, "At some point you have to take a step back and look at the relative value of Unemployment Benefits versus [unemployed] people looking for jobs."

Altmire claims business owners in his district complained of hiring trouble because potential workers would rather stay on the dole—that said, he wouldn’t reference which business owners.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) affirmed the same beliefs in a June comment off the Senate floor. Until just over one month ago, extended Unemployment Benefits gave the unemployed an unprecedented 99 weeks of checks in some U.S. states, to be "paid for"—rather than passed as emergency spending and adding to deficit cost.

Feinstein said that while extended benefits during times of recession have never been paid for, "unemployment insurance has never carried the heavy weight that it does right now, the cost that it does right now, so people are concerned. And there isn't a lot of documentation on this. Last night for the first time I had somebody from a company tell me they've offered jobs to individuals and they said well, I want to not come back to work until my unemployment insurance runs out. So we need to start looking at these things. And we need to start paying for it [Unemployment Benefits]."

Supposedly Feinstein's office later “clarified” that the senator "believes that unemployed Americans want jobs, not unemployment checks"—voting in favor of every attempt to reauthorize the benefits over the past month that extended Unemployment Benefits have been removed.

At a June hearing on long-term unemployment, Rep. John Linder (R-Ga.) said, "Even when businesses are willing to hire, nearly two years of unemployment benefits are too much of an allure for some," and: "The evidence is mounting that so-called stimulus policies rammed through Congress are doing more harm than good."

Of course it wouldn’t be dramatic without the personalities that provide it: while some are calling the jobless essentially lazy—Hatch says they're on drugs, too. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is proposing drug testing of the unemployed: "A lot of people are saying, 'Hey, it's about time. Why do we keep giving money to people who are going to go use it on drugs instead of their families?'"

It's all perfectly offensive to the unemployed. To be eligible for Unemployment Benefits insurance, an employee is required to have been laid off from their job for economic reasons pertaining to the business owner—there’s no fault on behalf of the employee himself or herself.

Like one unemployed man told the Huffington Post: "We [the United States] can bail out banks and insurance and the auto industry, and then the Senate goes and spends the 4th of July on their boats with their fine bourbon and cigars. There seems to be a huge disconnect between our Congress and what's going on out in the street."

Another conveyed in email to the Huffington Post:

"It makes me sick that Congress finds it necessary to keep pouring more and more taxpayer money into these banks, mortgage companies and nothing into the pockets of those who are in reality are paying the bills," said an unemployed female raising a teenage son. "If I hear one more stupid congressman point the finger at the American public and accuse those who can't find work of being lazy drug addicts, I think I'll do more than scream. You better believe I'll be counted at the polls come November."

Before the holiday, Democrats on the congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC) released a report opposing the idea that making extended Unemployment Benefits discourages people from seeking employment. "Playing deficit politics with unemployment benefits is simply wrong," said JEC Chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) told the Huffington Post. "As this JEC report clearly shows, unemployment benefits do not deter unemployed workers from vigorously looking for a new job, especially in this economy. Additionally, the dollars they receive are plowed right back into the economy."

"How anyone can demonize people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and who are struggling to simply keep afloat in this job market is beyond me," said Judy Conti, a lobbyist for the National Employment Law Project. "These remarks add nothing to the debate about how to handle a very serious crisis, and reveal the speakers as people who have no compassion, little basic human decency, and absolutely no understanding of the present job market in this [US] country. They should be ashamed of themselves."

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Comments

Orrin Hatch is an old tool!

July 7, 2010 by venusrising, 9 years 22 weeks ago

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Orrin Hatch is a tired old tool and should just retire and let someone worthwhile fill the position. He has great things to like in the past
"There’s a lot of jealousy of the United States, especially in Europe, and France in particular and some of the other nations as well. So naturally they’re constantly poking holes at the United States. … Yeah there’s some irritation with the United States but mainly it’s because we’re so powerful and strong militarily and economically and otherwise."
I am proud to be an American but people like Orrin Hatch make us all look like fools.