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    Trump, Congress condemn unemployed to starve

    24 July 2020

    As talks continue between the Trump administration and Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress, it is now clear that the $600-a-week extended federal benefit for the unemployed, in effect for the past four months, will be allowed to expire this week. Tens of millions of workers will suffer an outright cutoff of these benefits, and any restoration will take place only after weeks, if not months, and at a much lower level, if it happens at all.

    This is all the more significant in light of Thursday’s report that the number of workers filing new claims for unemployment compensation rose last week to 1.4 million, the first week-to-week rise in four months. Together with the 16.1 million workers who have continuing claims to unemployment compensation, those whose state claims have been exhausted but are still eligible for federal benefits, and those covered by Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for contractors and self-employed workers, the total number of workers now receiving federal payments is about 30 million: one in every five workers.

    Workers in some states have still not received their initial payments based on the CARES Act passed in late March because antiquated computer systems collapsed under the impact of the largest and fastest surge in unemployment in American history.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has told his Republican caucus that no final deal will be approved by Congress until August, guaranteeing that tens of millions of workers will lose their federal supplement. Unemployment compensation payments will fall back to the grossly inadequate level paid by the states, averaging only $300 per week, and as low as $144 per week in Tennessee. This represents a cut of 64 percent in the weekly income of the typical unemployed worker, according to an analysis by the House Ways and Means Committee.
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