Unemployed lose FAC benefits while rich (as usual) get theirs
So we had the big deal over the Republicans keeping the unemployment benefits hostage in exchange for letting millionaires keep the Bush tax cuts even longer. And even though the tax cuts will last another two years, at least we got 13 months of unemployment benefits extensions. Winners, right?
Even before you consider the above factors, there was one element about the unemployment benefits that slipped through the cracks, and no longer exists.
As part of the American Recovery Act of 2009, the Federal Additional Compensation (FAC) program put $25 extra per week in the unemployment benefits. If you were laid off between that date and May 30, 2010, you will eligible for the extra money. But the FAC benefit ran out in December and was not renewed in the negotiations for unemployment benefits.
The $25 extra per week wasn’t going to make a huge difference; however, the symbolism and the actual cash were significant for people whose lives were upturned by losing their jobs.
And the Obama Administration was also good about paying for 65% of COBRA coverage provided you got laid-off within a particular period. Unfortunately, COBRA only works if the company you worked for stayed in business, and a lot of those “small businesses” that the GOP likes to talk about, went under, forfeiting the benefit.
There were small things that the Obama Administration was doing to try and help those who needed help. Those programs got very little coverage in the press, preferring to give time to “birthers” who despite not having a single shred of evidence, were allowed to go on TV and be interviewed about their crackpot theories.
If anything, this country didn’t do nearly enough for those that suffered in these horrible economic times. Many historians and economists believe that the United States was able to eventually thrive in part of the policies under FDR at the worst of times.
But in these modern bad economic times, we worry more about the deficit and debt, we worry about our lost values (even as we work hard to not help those who need help — values), we worry about a black man in the White House.
For those who were unemployed, that extra $25 was a reminder that even on some small level, people in charge were thinking of those who needed assistance. But losing that money is a small sacrifice so that Wall Street can get record bonuses, and the rich can keep the tax cuts they never should have had in the first place.
If Robin Hood were here in 2011, he would be very, very confused. So are we.