Sunday, May 26, 2013

Republicans About To Launch Double Pronged Attack On Unemployed

Earlier this year, I warned the gentle reader that the Republicans were gearing up to launch yet another war on the unemployed:
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.
Well, don't say I didn't warn you.

With thanks to Rep. Chris Sinicki for the heads up, we find that the Republicans had introduced the bill this past Friday and it was immediately scheduled for a public hearing this coming Wednesday:


Committee on Labor

The committee will hold a public hearing on the following items at the time specified below:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013
12:00 PM
300 Northeast

Assembly Bill 219
Relating to: various changes in the unemployment insurance law; license revocations based on delinquency in payment of unemployment insurance contributions; granting rule-making authority; providing a penalty; and making an appropriation.

By Representative Knodl; cosponsored by Senator Lasee.

Representative Daniel Knodl
Here is AB 219 in all it's ugliness.

But there is something that the gentle reader should note.

AB 219, as bad as it is, is strictly what was agreed upon by the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council.

AB 219, by no stretch of the imagination, contains all the things that the Republicans want to do to the unemployed.  And don't think for one hot second that the Republicans won't go after everything they want.

I have word that the Republicans could very well enter a motion in Finance on Wednesday to add all the crap that was not approve by the advisory council.  I do believe we've seen enough to know how it will go from there without me having to paint the gentle reader a picture.

So let us be prepared.  Not only will be there the frontal attack of kicking the unemployed while they are down, but they will be also launching a sneak attack adding the things that no one but the Republicans and their corporate masters want.

I just find it sickening that the Republicans - who have cause the state to become 44th in the nation in job creation and just had the largest one month drop in jobs in years - believe it is necessary or even desirable to attack their victims a second time. Talk about your sad sacks.

I also have to wonder how the thirteen Democrats who voted for AB 110 feel about themselves now that the people they voted against before are about to get slammed again.


  1. Sounds like the lawmakkers are trying to make working in Wisconsin a high risk venture. Why would a skilled worker move to a new location for a better job, which often does not work out, and then have to wait a minimum of a month and a half for unemployment INSURANCE????? Rather move to Illinois for that new job thank you.

  2. Bring back public hangings and mob control.
    Funny how its the red states that take the most from the federal gov. but give back the least. These scum sucking republicans love to drink from the well as long as it's only them drinking.
    Still waiting to find out how the two republican idiots from Oklahoma, who voted against Sandy aid plan on fixing their state!!!!!!!!

  3. We're 50th in job growth for enterprises with under 500 employees, 49th in public employee wages, and Walker and friends have done this in just 2 years! Where the hell are people supposed to look for these 4 jobs per week? Demand for products leads to jobs.When the people have no money [buying power] there is no demand. Why is this so hard for Walker & Co to understand. Oh....that's right..they don't care....special interest money [their buying power] is all they care about!

  4. Given that there is a trendy reluctance on the part of employers to hire anyone who is unemployed, as though being without a job is some sort of disease, this bill should ease the transition from job loss to homelessness. Look for an amendment that provides unemployed people with a bus ticket out of state. It would be the Christian thing to do. Just ask Glenn "I Speak to Jesus" Grothman.

    1. If Grothman has his way we'll all be leaving the state. He and the Repubs only want wealthy people to live here. If you are a person or a family in need thanks to these goof's economic policies they would prefer that you leave because they don't believe in helping your neighbor. They only help themselves!

  5. This is ALL about getting the unemployment numbers down by any means possible for the upcoming election. I hear idiots all the time defend Walker because the unemployment numbers are relatively low compared to other states. Forget about being 44th in job growth, look at that unemployment rate go down. He's got my vote. That's the only way these horrible people stay in office....idiots!

    1. Actually the best short-term statistical "fix" to get headline unemployment down would be the exact opposite.

      Unemployment is defined as being able to work and to have applied for at least one job within the last 4 weeks.

      If UI kicked in immediately and were made conditional upon not applying for any jobs at all, people claiming UI for more than 4 weeks would in fact not be counted towards the unemployment total, making a huge dent in the unemployment rate.

  6. Tess, You are absolutely spot on. Reduce or eliminate UE claims and voila-- a decrease in UE.

    Meanwhile, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation created to increase new business and jobs, has mismanaged, lost track of, and squandered over one half billion dollars. If that weren't enough they gave incentives to companies for jobs created before implementation of WEDC, and bought gift cards, and trips to foreign lands for staff family members.

    Yet, Walker wants another $14 million increase for WEDC. Cutting funds for the unemployed, poor, elderly, homeless, soon to be homeless, and giving it to wealthy donors and staff vacations. Just can't make this stuff up.

    This guy is pure evil.

  7. Leave Wisconsin.

  8. it is good to be poor in the city of new york---until we die from cola reductions in our foodstamps and have to eat out of dumpsters and contract numerous mrsa infections and coronavirii from the packed food pantry lines and soup kitchens and well, misery does trickle up and westward i suppose!

  9. This is clearly designed to try to crash the Wisconsin economy.

    If you're going to be on your own for 6 weeks after being kicked off the job, that's 6 weeks' wages you have to save up in case the very thinkable in the Walker economy happens.

    But *everyone* drawing a wage who isn't 100% certain of their continued employment has to do this - i.e. just about everyone has to save that much money and not spend it.

    6 weeks' wages for everyone in the state is approximately 5% of Wisconsin's GDP that all of a sudden is sucked out and not spent. All at once. If people do this in a single quarter that's a fifth of the state economy gone for 3 months, just like that. Forget the Great Recession, we're talking Great Depression kinds of deflation here.

    1. Right Geoff, a lack of claims won't make up for the lack of jobs created from people having any income yanked away from them.

      And when the Philly Fed says we live in 1 of only 2 states with a declining economy now, and 1 of 4 with a declining economy for the next 6 months, any further drop truly does send is into a depression.

    2. Just to be clear, Jake, I'm not considering the lack of spending power of those who would have to go 6 weeks without UI (with about 100,000 currently claiming UI that might be $200m out of the economy, perhaps twice that over the course of a year?) - I'm considering the lack of spending power of the entire workforce who would then have to drop their own spending in order to build up sufficient savings to self-insure for those 6 weeks ($110 billion annual wages in Wisconsin x 6 weeks / 52 weeks ~ $15 billion out of the economy).

      If anyone thought that the economic impact of Act 10 and Walker's first budget was bad, this is about 10 times worse.