To the editor:
Recently, primarily as a result of opposition from Republican conservative members of Congress, a federally funded program which has extended the unemployment benefits of the long-term unemployed has, at least for now, been eliminated, leaving 1.3 million Americans without income as they search for employment to replace what has been lost due to no fault of their own.
This program of extended unemployment compensation was championed and instituted under former Republican President George W. Bush, provides monthly benefits to the eligible job seeker of approximately $1,166 per month, and has proven to be most beneficial, both for the recipient and our recovering, but still struggling economy.
However, Republican conservative lawmakers of today sadly apparently do not share this view with their former two-term president.
Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who appears to be promoting himself as a potential 2016 candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has stated that extending unemployment benefits will simply de-motivate job seekers from seriously pursuing gainful employment options.
Such a comment is, I feel, a strong indication of a lack of compassion and empathy for those in need and an insult to the American worker and American work ethic.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that extending such benefits would boost growth of our gross domestic product by 0.2 percent while increasing full-time employment by 200,000, and that the extension has, to date, helped keep 11.4 million Americans out of poverty and has benefitted approximately 17 million children.
Restoring the 47 weeks of unemployment compensation through 2014 would cost approximately $19 billion, according to the CBO, but such would serve as a very worthwhile investment in our people and in the future of our great nation.
This is not the time for petty partisan politics.
Now is the time to rally in support of our nation's people and extend such critical subsidies.