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Loeffler, Nation’s Richest Senator, “Not Seeing a Big Need to Extend” Jobless Aid As Millions Face “Eviction and Hunger”

A new New York Times report details how millions of Americans will be “vulnerable to eviction and hunger” if Congress fails to renew two emergency unemployment lifelines and a federal eviction moratorium that are set to expire at the end of the year. But unelected Senator Kelly Loeffler has made her position clear on extending the critical jobless aid that millions of working Americans have relied on amid the pandemic to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads:

“We don’t need incentives not to work… I am not seeing a big need to extend the federal unemployment insurance.”  – Senator Kelly Loeffler, Fox News, July 22, 2020

WATCH:

Since much of the federal emergency unemployment aid expired more than three months ago, Loeffler and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have refused to negotiate on a serious relief effort that could pass Congress and help Americans. Instead, they took a month-long summer vacation, turned their backs on the millions of Americans who desperately need help, and pushed stunt bills that were nothing more than political cover.

“It’s easy for Senator Loeffler to not see ‘a big need’ to extend emergency unemployment relief when she can simply hop in her private jet and fly away, but she is ignoring the hardworking Georgians who have been struggling for months just to put food on the table and stay in their homes,” said DSCC spokesperson Helen Kalla. “Loeffler’s cavalier and out of touch attitude towards the hardships Georgians are facing in this pandemic is one more reason she’s not fit to represent them in the Senate.”

New York Times: Millions Face Loss of Jobless Aid: ‘Without It, I’m Dead in the Water’
By Ben Casselman

Key Points:

  • Two critical unemployment programs are set to expire at the end of the year, potentially leaving millions of Americans vulnerable to eviction and hunger and threatening to short-circuit an economic recovery that has already lost momentum.
  • As many as 13 million people are receiving payments under the programs, which Congress created last spring to expand and extend the regular unemployment system during the coronavirus pandemic. Leaders of both major parties have expressed support for renewing the programs in some form, but Congress has been unable to reach a deal to do so. It remains unclear how the results of last week’s election will affect prospects for an agreement.
  • The expanded unemployment programs are some of the last vestiges of the trillions of dollars in aid that Congress provided through a series of emergency measures in the spring. That spending — which included direct checks to most U.S. households, $600 a week in supplemental unemployment benefits and hundreds of billions of dollars in support for small businesses — offset the pandemic’s financial toll for many families, and helped fuel an economic recovery that was initially stronger than many forecasters expected.
  • The year-end benefits cliff could be even more damaging. Many families have depleted any savings they built when the $600 supplement was available. A partial federal eviction moratorium is scheduled to expire at the end of the year, although it could be extended. And benefits checks won’t just shrink, as they did over the summer — they will disappear.
  • “The safety net still has kind of held up until now, and I think we have been maybe lulled into a sense of complacency,” said Andrew Stettner, an expert on unemployment benefits at the Century Foundation, a progressive policy research group. “We’re just putting people in this really precarious financial position where the damage of unemployment can just hit really hard.”
  • Nearly four million Americans are receiving benefits under the pandemic compensation program. That number has doubled in the past month and is expected to keep rising as more people reach the end of their state benefits, which last 26 weeks in most of the country.
  • If the program ends at the end of the year, some workers will be able to continue to receive benefits under a federal program not tied to the pandemic. But those benefits aren’t available in some states, including Tennessee, and don’t cover some types of workers, like freelancers.
  • Congress last spring created a separate emergency program, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, to cover people left out of the normal unemployment system, such as freelancers and self-employed workers, as well as those unable to work because of pandemic-related child care issues and similar obstacles. There were 9.3 million people in that program in mid-October, according to federal data…
  • By any measure, millions are in danger of losing their benefits. Many economists warn that the harm would extend not just to individual workers but to the broader economy.
  • The threat of losing benefits is amplified during a pandemic. Matt Weis, chief program officer at the National Able Network, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization, said he had long counseled job seekers to look for a “survival job” — one that will pay the bills while they look for more permanent work. But that is a harder argument to make when many sources of stopgap work, like seasonal retail and fast food, could carry health risks.
  • But negotiations have repeatedly failed, and it remains far from certain that this attempt will succeed. The aftermath of the election — including President Trump’s refusal so far to accept the result, and runoff elections in Georgia that will decide control of the Senate — is likely to capture Washington’s attention for weeks, and Mr. Trump may see little incentive to push for a stimulus deal. 

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