No job, less help

June 30, 2013 

Reflecting little more than their distaste for federal safety net programs and their lack of care for the unemployed in North Carolina, Republicans in the General Assembly cut the maximum unemployment benefit to $350 from $535 and curbed the length of time people are eligible. The reason? To pay back more quickly the $2 billion the state owes the federal government for money borrowed to cover benefits following the Bush recession.

But the GOP knew that if the state rules were changed, federal benefits for the long-term unemployed, which might have continued, would be cut off. They didn’t care, and nor were they concerned that tens of millions of dollars would be lost to the state’s economy. Some 70,000 North Carolinians will be hurt.

Republicans say that by cutting benefits, the state will be encouraging the unemployed to find work. That’s insulting, of course, because the vast majority of the jobless have been trying to find employment. The average benefit check of about $300 a week doesn’t exactly provide for a take-it-easy lifestyle. And GOP lawmakers don’t care to consider what happens to people when their benefits are cut off and they are still without work. Homes will be lost. Medicine will go unbought. Kids will go hungry. That’s the reality, as opposed to the rhetoric.

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