Written for yesterday’s Day of Online Solidarity with Jobless Workers and crossposted from UnemployedWorkers.org. The Solidarity Day may have been yesterday, but the issue is still just as urgent for tens of millions of jobless workers today.
An announcement late yesterday by President Obama included word of a tentative agreement with Congressional representatives in both parties to a full-year re-authorization of the federal unemployment insurance programs as part of a broader tax and economic package.
In a televised statement, the President said:
I’m not willing to let working families across this country become collateral damage for political warfare here in Washington. And I’m not willing to let our economy slip backwards just as we’re pulling ourselves out of this devastating recession.
I’m not willing to see 2 million Americans who stand to lose their unemployment insurance at the end of this month be put in a situation where they might lose their home or their car or suffer some additional economic catastrophe.
The framework announced yesterday includes a temporary extension of current tax rates for two years for all income levels, including top income earners. In addition, the President said the agreement included several other tax credits beneficial to many working families and others struggling to make ends meet in a stubbornly tough economy.
In exchange for a temporary extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, we will be able to protect key tax cuts for working families — the Earned Income Tax Credit that helps families climb out of poverty; the Child Tax Credit that makes sure families don’t see their taxes jump up to $1,000 for every child; and the American Opportunity Tax Credit that ensures over 8 million students and their families don’t suddenly see the cost of college shooting up.
These are the tax cuts for some of the folks who’ve been hit hardest by this recession, and it would be simply unacceptable if their taxes went up while everybody else’s stayed the same.
Now, under this agreement, unemployment insurance will also be extended for another 13 months, which will be welcome relief for 2 million Americans who are facing the prospect of having this lifeline yanked away from them right in the middle of the holiday season.
Initial reactions from some members of both parties clearly indicate that not everyone is supportive of every aspect of the announced framework. There is always the possibility that the agreement could come apart, or encounter delays in Congress. But for now, there appears to be a consensus favoring the full-year renewal of the federal unemployment benefits programs — the focus of our efforts these last few months here at Unemployedworkers.org. The current prospect for that full-year re-authorization looks better right now than it ever has before. And that would not be the case were it not for your efforts to raise your voices and build public support for unemployed workers.
That’s why we are not letting up one bit — and we’re urging you to keep the pressure on Congress to do the right thing. Even if the agreement announced by the President yesterday comes apart, we still need to ensure that the federal unemployment insurance programs are re-authorized through the end of 2011. Those programs began to lapse for the third time this year just last week, cutting off the essential lifeline to 2 million unemployed workers this month, 4 million by the end of February, 7 million by the end of 2011 — unless Congress acts.
If you haven’t seen it yet — watch this powerful 3-minute video:
So, call your Senators and Representatives at 1-888-340-6522 toll free. Keep telling them to pass a full-year renewal of the federal unemployment insurance programs. And join us today December 7, along with tens of thousands of other online advocates, on a Day of Online Solidarity With Jobless Workers via Twitter, Facebook, your own blogs.
Don’t let up now!