Thursday, May 30, 2013

Republicans Maleficence Towards Unemployed Continues Unabated

As we - and only we - had reported on Sunday, the Republicans were planning on launching a double pronged attack on the unemployed in Wisconsin.  They were
going to introduce a set of proposals agreed upon by the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council which would drastically cut benefits for many unemployed and underemployed Wisconsinites.

We also reported that the Republicans would then introduce the parts that the UIAC did not agree upon in Finance, so as they could stay in the good graces of the well moneyed special interests who had bought and paid for them.

And on Wednesday, it came to pass.

The Republicans did their secondary attack on the unemployed.  Per the Wisconsin State Journal, among the new proposals that the Republicans approved without so much as a public hearing include:

  • Someone denied benefits after failing to accept a job offer would remain ineligible until finding a job and earning six times his or her weekly benefit rate. Under current law the requirement is four times the weekly benefit rate.
  • Jobless benefits would no longer be extended beyond their normal expiration date for people who are completing vocational training or basic education courses.
  • Unemployed people who failed to keep their identification number, user name and password secure could be liable for any benefits obtained by unauthorized persons
  • Financial institutions doing business with the state would be required to disclose information about accounts held by people who owe money to the unemployment system.
  • The state would try to collect overpayments made as a result of administrative errors or computer malfunctions. Officials could sue to freeze bank accounts holding money wrongly paid out.
These changes, which the Republicans falsely claim will protect the unemployed, actually will cut benefits by more than $14 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year and by more than another $23 million in the 2014-15 year.

The legal analysis of the proposed changes are here:

Representatives Chris Sinicki and Bob Jauch issued a joint press release which addressed the Republicans malfeasance:

Today the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee approved changes that make it more difficult for laid-off workers to collect unemployment benefits when they have lost their jobs. For roughly eight decades the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Advisory Council, made up of representatives of employers and employees, has set this policy. Today Republicans on the Finance committee unilaterally took those duties upon themselves and defiantly passed anti-employee measures that the UI Council did not agree upon. They’ve forced changes to UI law into the state budget without any public hearing or scrutiny.

Wisconsin’s unemployment program was the model for the nation at its creation. Now, Republicans are seeking multiple changes that would profoundly change the program and tilt the it dramatically against employees.

In response to this Republican sneak attack on employees, Rep. Chris Sinicki (ranking Democrat, Assembly Committee on Labor ) and Sen. Bob Jauch (ranking Democrat, Senate Committee on Workforce Development, Forestry, Mining, and Revenue) released the following statements:

“Under Gov. Walker and the Republicans, Wisconsin has fallen to 44th in the nation in job creation. But, instead of focusing on putting people back to work, Republicans are focused on kicking jobless workers off unemployment,” said Rep. Sinicki. “Republicans want taxpayers to spend millions more on private schools and tax breaks for the rich, but they are kicking workers when they are down in a lagging economy that Republicans themselves created.”

“Rather than working together on bipartisan solutions agreed upon by employers and employees, Republicans are again dividing and polarizing Wisconsin citizens by ramming through measures into the budget that make life even harder for people who have lost their jobs in a down economy,” said Sen. Jauch. “This is incredibly short-sighted because unemployment is intended to maintain the workforce and because it allows people to keep paying their bills, it benefits our whole state economy.”
Indeed, it takes a special level of depravity to cause such widespread unemployment, ruin the economy so we have no chance of any significant job growth, and then viciously and repeatedly attack the people you have already victimized.

But as the gentle reader knows, there is more.  There is always more.

The Republicans are continuing to ramrod through their multi-pronged attack on the unemployed by having the vote on it this coming Monday, instead of waiting until the regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday.  The Democrats have sent a letter to Rep. Dan Knodl, Chair of the Labor Committee, asking him to show some decency by holding the vote at a normal time.

Given how the Republicans only listen to their corporate masters and given how they appear to be in a controlled panic about things, as if they are trying to get as much crammed in before some shoe drops, I would not count on them doing anything even remotely resembling decency.

If they had any decency, they would be focused, you know, on actually creating jobs in order to get the rate of unemployment down.


  1. Wonder how the Operating Engineers like Walker now?

  2. What shoe is going to drop?

  3. The other shoe includes a fact John Peterson at Democurmudgeon hot on- the bill replaces taxes the employers have to pay to the UE fund (since they cause the layoffs, this makes them pay for the benefits), and makes the general taxpayer kick in $26 million again. Nice bailout, eh?

  4. All Republicans are doing is alienating the general public enough that even their gerrymandering of district lines won't even save them. Oh, they'll have a few beer swilling, gun toting Packer fans behind them, but even then, that won't be enough.

  5. Their right-wing agenda-cramming seems to be going into overdrive. I can barely keep up with it.

    1. I think that's part of the plan Julie. Cram so many things in there that we get outrage fatigue so you can't focus on just one thing. It's just like the Bush years

    2. Is this the legislative version of the Gish Gallup?

    3. Okay, thanks. It certainly does describe the typical Republican when engaged in debate.

  6. Can somebody define "Gish Gallup?" Urban Dictionary doesn't even list it.