While some in Congress say cutting the deficit should be the top priority, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says there’s no task more “urgent” now than extending unemployment benefits to the long-term jobless. “Those benefits expire at the end of the month,” Harkin says.
“Nearly two-million Americans, including seven-thousand Iowans, will see their benefits abruptly terminated unless we do something. This is unconscionable, especially during the Christmas season.” Harkin says the nation’s unemployment rate is holding around 9% with around 14-million people jobless, though he says that figure may be closer to 28-million.
He says this is our country’s worst bout of unemployment since the Great Depression with four job seekers for every available job. Harkin says, “Many of these people already have lost their savings, their homes, now they’re at risk of losing their last lifeline, the roughly $300 a week they receive, that’s average, some more, some less, in unemployment benefits.”
Harkin, a Democrat, says Republicans are “out of touch” when they say unemployment benefits destroy the incentive to look for work. He says extending the jobless benefits would be an act of “human compassion.”
“I respect those who make the economic case for doing this,” Harkin says. “They argue that unemployment benefits generate two dollars in economic activity for every dollar spent. This is good for our fragile economy. This money is not saved. It’s spent right away to purchase everyday essentials and that gives a boost to businesses on Main Street.”