Over a million vulnerable Americans are facing a savage cut to their benefits just days after Christmas thanks to Republicans refusing to extend a vital aid program.
On December 28th this year, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program will expire thanks to the GOP refusing to take up a Democratic-sponsored extension. This will lead to the slashing of federal aid for 1.3 million of the most vulnerable Americans, including veterans and children.
Last month Democratic congressmen Sandy Levin and Lloyd Doggett (of Minnesota and Texas respectively) introduced a bill to extend the EUC program through 2014. Unfortunately the bill has not even been able to get a hearing with the GOP instead choosing to spend this legislative session on more important things — like attempting to derail Obamacare (again) or cut Food Stamps for the poorest American families.
Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee released a report on the devastating impact of the refusal to extend the program. In its executive summary it stated that:
More than 20,000 veterans would immediately be cut off from federal unemployment insurance the week of Dec. 28 if Congress does not reauthorize the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program. As many as 2 million children could be impacted by ending the federal EUC program.
It went on to highlight the importance of the EUC for vulnerable Americans:
Without the federal EUC program, less than a quarter of unemployed Americans would have received unemployment benefits, the lowest UI recipiency rate for Americans looking for work in more than 50 years.
Even the investment bank JP Morgan has expressed concern at the prospective cut. In its own report it estimated that the EUC was responsible for $20-$25 billion worth of payments to the poorest Americans. It went on to warn that a such a dramatic and sudden cut in welfare could lead to a decrease in consumer spending so severe it could lead to a reduction of as much as 0.4% of annualized growth in the next economic quarter.
Congressmen Levin was clear on the urgency with which Congress needs to approach this issue:
Millions of unemployed Americans and their children would be left out in the economic cold just days after Christmas unless Congress acts to extend this vital program.