by Alex Lloyd Gross
When the pandemic hit, millions of businesses were forced to close. To combat the effect, the government gave people on unemployment $600.00 per week. It was a Godsend and a lifeline. The problem is that $600.00 has expired and senate republicans are not interested in resurrecting it, or keeping it going. According to PA Sen Pat Toomey, “It provides a disincentive to work, that is why I am not interested in firing the money cannon again,” he said.
President Donald Trump is against it as well. He is trying to get the economy going and that is not going to happen as quickly as he would like. He has rolled out a campaign of “Do something else”. That’s not so easy. Sure, you work at a Dunkin Donuts. That shop closed, you can use your skills and go to another restaurant. They are hiring. What about the middle manager making $40,000 year. Those jobs are not plentiful. If you are in a specialized industry, that industry may be decimated. Movie theaters, arenas, servers are just a few. That means movie production companies, camera operators, publicists , all of them are struggling. not to mention the concession industry.
The some members of the senate wants to cut the pandemic benefit to about $200.00 per week. They claim some workers are making more on unemployment that at their jobs. Maybe for a few.. When a business is allowed to reopen, and they call in John. He was laid off and he does not want to come back, the business has to report him to the Department of Labor. John must be available for work in order to claim his benefit. When the boss calls and he does not want to report back to work, he loses his unemployment. He can also lose his job and be ineligible for future unemployment. benefits.
Members of the senate are highly paid public servants. Most are millionaires. They forget who hired them ( the American people) . Several Republican Senators are up for reelection this November. They hope their base is solid enough to help them win. They forget, that a good number of their constituents are out of work through no fault of their own. They will weigh very heavily the decision to not help them, their friends or family in November.
While the the democrat controlled congress passed their bill to extend the benefit, not everyone is buying the Republican Senate narrative that paying someone $600.00 per week is going to make them not want to work. as more and more pandemic forgiveness programs come due ( deferred car payments, rent etc) people will need that extra money to survive. When acommercial landlord’s tenant cannot stay in business, they must close. The landlord must find another tenant. Many people can expect a heavy rent increase if their landlord is hurting due to lost tenants. That extra money will help.
In a related note, the Republican Senate refused to even consider raising the minimum wage. It has been struck at $7.25/hr for over a decade.