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Unemployed and Unnoticed

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  • Today, Congress sets a new record; in the last 40 years, it has never allowed extended unemployment benefits to expire when the unemployment rate was above 7.2 percent.
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  • 2 million lose jobless benefits as holidays arrive
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  • Republican attack on labor goes way beyond Congress
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Progress Report, Think Progress

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Today (Nov 30), Congress sets a new record; in the last 40 years, it has never allowed extended unemployment benefits to expire when the unemployment rate was above 7.2 percent. But today, in an economy that faces a 9.6 percent unemployment rate, Congress will let the benefits expire and force 2.5 million Americans to lose their benefits in the midst of the holiday season. As the New York Times notes, such a "lack of regard for working Americans is shocking," especially when juxtaposed with decades of bipartisan support for similar measures.

But, in their pitch to obstruct any legislative progress, the Republicans of the 111th Congress have waged a two-year, all-out war against extending benefits, regardless of who it may hurt. The GOP's chief defense of its position is the $12.5 billion cost of a three-month extension, or $60 billion for a full year. Such feigned concern for the deficit is made all the more deceptive when considering the same Republicans are simultaneously demanding that Congress extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. And, while these tax cuts for the rich provide very little economic stimulus, the unemployment benefits they obstruct have provided a vital economic boost to struggling families and businesses. By prioritizing the pocketbooks of the privileged over the needs of the American worker, Republicans are turning their back on their two alleged priorities: the American people and the economy.

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Related:

2 million lose jobless benefits as holidays arrive, Tom Breen, Associated Press/MSNBC
Even if Congress does lengthen benefits, cash assistance is at best a stopgap measure, said Carol Hardison, executive director of Crisis Assistance Ministry in Charlotte, N.C., which has seen 20,000 new clients since the Great Recession started in December 2007.

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Republican attack on labor goes way beyond Congress, Scott Marshall, People's World<>

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  • The coming attacks on labor are much more than big business's legislative program to roll back labor law. The Republican, tea party and corporate right-wing agenda is much broader than legislation.
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  • This article is Part Two of a series. Part One,  "Republicans target labor," appeared last week (Nov 7-13).
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