The hypocrisy, to say the least, is mind-blowing. Preserving the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy has been framed as an effort to protect the common person (also known as the "small business owner"), while programs and policies that actually would protect poor, low- and middle-income people struggling to survive the ongoing economic crisis are slashed. In truth, emergency unemployment insurance prevents a significant number of people from joining the ranks of the poor while also stimulating economic growth. A wealth of research compiled by the National Women's Law Center, a Ms. Foundation grantee, backs these claims and helps call the conservatives' bluff. For example:
- Last Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the national 14.3 percent poverty rate in 2009 would have been 15.4 percent without unemployment insurance benefits, a poverty level not seen since the 1960s.
- A study commissioned (ironically) by the most recent Bush Administration reported that every dollar spent on unemployment insurance results in an increase in economic activity of two dollars.
- The Economic Policy Institute, in its "What would you do with $67 billion? Three alternatives to giving it to the rich," [pdf] concluded that extending emergency unemployment insurance would generate roughly 5.0 times as many jobs in 2011 and 2012 as would be created by an extension of the upper-income tax cuts.
Today, urge Congress to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, not Groundhog Day.