Sunday, February 3, 2013

Nothing Like Kicking Someone When They're Down

In 2011, the Republican-held Assembly and Senate followed the marching orders of the well-moneyed special interests, which were being barked out by Scott Walker.

Among the thousands of large and small ills visited upon our state by this group of political mercenaries included an attack on the unemployed.

They added a one-week delay before a person could receive benefits.  Walker also short-staffed the agency to create a backlog and further delay benefits.  They made the unemployed jump through more hoops to get any assistance, whether they were applying for the first time or had already been collecting.

As I had related in my last post, Representative Chris Sinicki told me that they have no less than 51 changes in store for unemployment insurance.  Furthermore, she said that the Republicans have made it abundantly clear that they plan on ramming these changes through, regardless of what the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council, the Democrats or their own constituents have to say about any of this.

Sinicki had already told us that one of the changes will be pushing back the start of unemployment back to six weeks.

Scott Walker also pointed out several changes he wants to make:
These changes, which would need to be made by lawmakers, would include requiring the unemployed to do four job applications a week instead of the current two.

"Common sense changes could improve the (unemployment) reserve fund condition, enhance the integrity of the program, and ensure taxes paid into the fund are used properly," the report reads.

At the bottom of the unemployment insurance complaints from business owners - and the Walker administration's focus - lies the financial state of the state's jobless fund. Weakened by the recession and a lack of past action to raise taxes or cut spending from the fund, the jobless reserve had to borrow from the federal government to keep paying benefits and stood $1.2 billion in the red at the beginning of 2012.

So to pay off the debt, the state already has had to restrict benefits for the jobless and raise payroll taxes on state employers.

Making it harder to get benefits would help with that process by keeping more money in the fund. But Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) said he was worried about the unemployed workers who wouldn't receive that money.

"Of the few details available, we know Wisconsin families and those suffering the most from slow job creation may lose important protections in the unemployment insurance program. We can only conclude that there is cause for concern that this administration may remove other common sense protections for Wisconsin's middle-class workers," Larson said in a statement.

The Walker administration also wants to look at:
Requiring more documentation from recipients of jobless benefits to cut down on fraud
Restricting the number of reasons such as illness, travel distance or physical limitations that a person can give to refuse work and still receive jobless benefits
Narrowing the list of exceptions that allow workers to quit a job and then receive unemployment insurance. Wisconsin currently has 18 of these exemptions, such as quitting for medical reasons or moving to a new region with a spouse. According to the report, Minnesota is the state with the next highest number of exemptions with nine.
As noted in the article, the problem arose during the Bush/Cheney recession, which produced a horrendously large number of job losses, quickly draining the fund for the unemployment insurance. As a consequence, the state had to borrow more than a billion dollars from the federal government in order to be able to pay the bills.

The article states that there were two ways to pay off the debt - raise taxes on the companies or cut the spending from the fund.

It goes without saying that Walker, being the corporate puppet that he is, is not about to raise taxes on companies. The is especially true since may of the high level executives and big business owners are also major campaign contributors for Walker.

But what the article doesn't point out is that there are two ways to cut spending.

The one way the article does mention is to screw over the unemployed by denying them benefits, or by at least delaying them. Who cares if people lose their homes, can't afford medicine they might need or can't feed their families? There are poor, suffering CEOs out there that need our tax money to make their bank accounts even larger.

The other way, the one the Republicans and the corporate media doesn't want you to think about, is to decrease spending by decreasing unemployment.

As I've repeatedly pointed out, while he was governor, and for the six months after he left office, Governor Jim Doyle was able to right the ship and start creating jobs.  Since Walker and the Republicans have taken over two years ago and started with their "business-friendly" polices and agenda, there has been little to no job growth.  In fact, in the past year and a half, Walker hasn't created as many jobs as Doyle's policies had done in the six months after he was out of office.

This is due mostly to the fact that the Republicans have yet passed a law or taken any action to promote job growth.  If anything, they have done all they could to help take money out of circulation, killing even more jobs.

Apparently, the Republicans figure it's easier to kick unemployed people when they're down rather than to try to help them pick themselves up.  This is especially egregious since the Republicans are the ones that knocked them down in the first place.

ADDENDUM: There is one thing from the above-cited article which really bothers me.  The article regurgitated this Republican talking point:
Making it harder to get benefits would help with that process by keeping more money in the fund.
I can understand not wanting to spend the money when it's not necessary, but isn't the fund there to be spend when people are unemployed?  If they don't want to spend that money on the people who need it most, exactly who are they planning on giving that money to?


  1. Added bonus: if you force a unemployed person who was say making 50k a year in some technical job accept a job at Mcdonald's for 17k a year you can then claim to be job creator

  2. Please proof read again. It's an important article but there are a few words missing. Thanks.

  3. Cut off unemployment eligibility in every way possible, make the payouts as low as possible for as short a time as possible, and those who have no choice will soon take jobs for less than their labor is worth, to the benefit of the job creators who will not, and need not pay a living wage.

  4. There is no skill shortage, there's a wage shortage. Employers are paying less and less for qualified workers. I predict one of the other changes to unemployment will be making a person take a job for minimum wage or lose their benefits. It's been a fairly new requirement for the laid off to post their resumes on the Wisconsin Job Net in order to collect unemployment benefits. Businesses can see the skills but not the personal information at the moment. I predict that will be changing. Companies will be able to offer the person a job for whatever they are willing to pay. If the person refuses they will be turning down work, thus losing their unemployment benefits.
    If you can't create jobs, the next best thing is to lower the unemployment rate so your stupid blind followers can marvel at what a great job your doing. And how do you lower the rate, get as many people off the unemployment roles as possible.
    I also think the whole mine thing is another bait and switch by Walker. I don't think he has any illusions of getting it by the Tribes and the federal courts (they will hold it up indefinitely with their treaty rights). He is using his "Divide and Conquer" strategy again. When his dismal job records comes up he will just say, "I could have created all kinds of jobs but those damn Indians wouldn't let me." And just like public workers and unions, they will be the new scapegoat for his ineptness.
    When the hell is this man going to prison? Hopefully, it won't be after he's f'd up and sold off what's left of this once great state. Not that I want anyone to be miserable, but I hope all the people who voted for him, not once but twice, enjoy the screwing they will be getting.
    I seriously think any person who votes Republican has no right to unemployment, Badgercare, Foodshare, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, fuel assistance or anything else Democrats are continuously fighting to keep. If you want to vote against your own interests, you should have to live with the consequences.

    1. Agree... I have two right wing outspoken republicans in my extended family, one of whom bought a house he couldn't afford then proceeded to put his family of five on Badgercare, and the other who lost his job and milked his unemployment for two full years until his wife made him finish his college degree during his

    2. ...unlimited free time and he's now making more money than ever before in his career (engineer). These people are so obtuse.

    3. I would guess he took advantage of job training programs to finish his degree...again something the Republican Congress, including Sean Dufus, voted to zero out along with funding to Job Centers. After that vote he had the balls to put his name on the bi-annual job fairs in the Wausau area. The people who he voted to zero out their jobs, set up the job fair, he put his name on it..The Sean Duffy Spring /Fall Job Fair...and showed up for an hour and a photo op. And what did many of the stupid people say that attended the job fair, "That Sean Duffy sure cares about us. Dave Obey never did anything like this for the unemployed." Too dumb to live.
      Even worse, he stole the first job fair from the Veterans. "Shockingly" he hasn't claimed the Spring one coming up this year...I guess he has two years before he has to lie and be a total hypocrite again for low information voters to vote him in again. Unbelievable.

    4. Let's start calling these "actions" what they are, wage suppression. Health care and retirement costs are shifted to the worker and now when you lose your job you can work for less. Keeping wages low goes right to the bottom line and lines the pockets of corporations with record profits. House hold incomes have dropped for four straight years, yet the Dow nears record highs. Wage suppression. Seems real to me.

  5. I am unemployed because my job was eliminated for budget reasons, have a college degree from UW-Madison, and apply for low wage jobs in addition to the high ones I'm qualified for, but cannot get hired at a convenient or grocery store, even, because they know I'll leave if offered a higher hourly wage (who wouldn't?). There are so many barriers.