Crewof42 released an H.R. 589 update:
Today the CBC met with White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley for about an hour. During the meeting the issue of the 99ers and unemployment extensions was discussed.
While there have been many meetings between Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and legislative leaders about moving forward on H.R. 589, all those efforts have yet to produce any concrete plans about how the legislation can move toward passage.
Facebook 99erAID member, Rochelle Sevier, sent an H.R. 589 update after calling both Rep. Barbara Lee and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI):
I spoke with Rep Barbara Lee’s office re HR589 and was told there is no date to bring the bill to the House floor for a vote. This means we need to keep the heat on Rep Dave Camp. His office phone# is 202-225-3561. I called Camp’s office and they are logging calls with respect to the bill.
Thanks, Rochelle, for making the effort to keep the pressure on Congress to act quickly. It’s vital that H.R. 589 or some other assistance is made available to the growing ranks of the long-term unemployed. Last month an additional 127,000 unemployed were determined to be out of work for 99 weeks or longer. The official BLs estimate of workers unemployed for 99 weeks or longer now stands at nearly 1.9 million, which is a record level. The 1.9 million BLS estimate doesn’t include the unemployed who have exhausted their state maximum unemployment benefits in states that allow less than 99 weeks of benefits.
One of the most highly respected and influential financial experts, Mohamed A. El-Erian – CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO – has a clear understanding of American unemployment, he calls it a crisis. In an excellent article, Sleepwalking through America’s Unemployment Crisis, Mr. El-Erian paints a picture of American leaders refusing to awaken to the unemployment crises which rises brightly before them:
Let us start with the facts:
· At 8.8% almost three years after the onset of the global financial crisis, America’s unemployment rate remains stubbornly (and unusually) high;
· Rather than reflecting job creation, much of the improvement in recent months (from 9.8% in November last year) is due to workers exiting the labor force, thus driving workforce participation to a multi-year low of 64.2%;
· If part-time workers eager to work full time are included, almost one in six workers in America are either under- or unemployed;
· More than six million workers have been unemployed for more than six months, and four million for over a year;
· Unemployment among 16-19 year olds is at a staggering 24%;
With virtually no earned income and dwindling savings, the unemployed are least able to manage the current surge in gasoline and food prices, they are effectively shut off from credit, and many have mortgage debt that exceed the value of their homes.
The statistics alone are disturbing, but when those statistics are combined with the realities faced by for millions long-term unemployed, the problem morphs into tragedy.
Mr. El-Erian concludes:
The US government has little time to waste if it is to avoid an even more protracted and entrenched unemployment problem. It must move now to address the problem’s sources through multi-year programs that range from educational restructuring and worker retraining to productivity enhancement and housing-sector reform. And it must do so while better protecting the long-term unemployed, many of whom bear little responsibility for their current, once unthinkable, and unfortunately long-lasting predicament.
It is past time for the US to wake up and confront in a holistic fashion its unemployment crisis. As everyone who has ever had an unpalatable job knows, shutting off the alarm and pulling the blanket over one’s head is not a solution.
Unfortunately, the GOP controlled House is asleep at the unemployment wheel and has done absolutely nothing to further job creation or advance critically needed unemployment assistance.
What legislation is the GOP House currently considering?
OpenCongress: If you need any more evidence that the House Republicans have given up on serious legislating for the year, look no further than the schedule for their first week back from recess. Votes are planned on repealing potentially popular parts of the new health care reform law, restricting federal funding to health care providers that provide abortion services even though no federal money is used for the abortion services, and expanding oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
Not a single mention of jobs or unemployment legislation is being considered by the House, or the Democratic controlled Senate for that matter. America’s most vexing issue – unemployment – is receiving zero attention from an out-of- focus Congress.
H.R. 589 or other immediate assistance is literally becoming a matter of life and death for many long-term unemployed. This past week a very active person in the 99er community tried to take his life. For privacy reasons, he is identified as 99erX. His roommate and best friend sent the following, in part:
It’s with a sad heart that I’ve returned to let people know that we nearly lost one last night. You all know him as 99erX. I know him as a roommate and best friend. I found him unconscious and barely breathing at a little after 6 this morning from a nicotine overdose. He was rusted to the emergency room and is expected to make a full recovery physically. Emotionally I’m not so sure. He’s one of the strongest people I know and he’d reached the end of his rope. I should have seen it coming with the way he’d become distant, even with the kids. Just figured it was a ‘phase’ or something. He left a simple note that just read: ‘I’m sorry’.
He’s sorry. 99erX has no reason to be sorry, it’s a dysfunctional unemployment system, overseen by clueless high-level bureaucrats and controlled by inept and shortsighted state legilators and congressional representatives that should carry the weight of being sorry. I have had contact with 99erX and he is a very talented, personable and intelligent individual. He is someone who certainly deserves better than he has received from a dispassionate Congress that finds it easier to bailout crooked and corrupted bankers using trillions of taxpayer dollars than to assist millions of vulnerable Americans who have lost jobs through no fault of their own. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery for 99erX.
While Mr. El-Erian states that America is sleepwalking through the unemployment crisis, the unemployed are living with the sleepless nights and reoccurring nightmare of unemployment. Wake up, Congress, the time to act is now.