U.S. Rep Becerra Meets With Jobless Workers at Lincoln Heights Center

Dems and GOP still at odds over extending unemployment benefits: Obama tells Congress to restore benefits.

By Jacqueline García, EGP Staff Writer

Following a weeklong recess, the Congress is back in session in Washington D.C. where debate over whether to renew an extension of federal emergency unemployment benefits is still heated.

Tuesday night, during his State of the Union address, President Obama said he is convinced “we can help Americans return to the workforce faster by reforming unemployment insurance so that it’s more effective in today’s economy,” and called on Congress to act fast to restore the unemployment benefits of 1.6 million people.

Republicans strongly opposed the extension back in December and have continued their objections into this session. Responding to the president’s speech Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner in a statement said, “Republicans are focused on improving employment, not unemployment.”

On average, eligible recipients receive about $300 per week in benefits. The last extension ended just before the New Year on Dec. 28th when the Senate voted down legislation to extend Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC), which provides additional weeks of unemployment benefits to workers who have run out of regular state unemployment insurance benefits during periods of high unemployment.

Congressman Xavier Becerra meets with a group of jobless workers at a WorkSource Center in Lincoln Heights. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

Congressman Xavier Becerra meets with a group of jobless workers at a WorkSource Center in Lincoln Heights. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

Recent reports from the Employment Development Department (EDD) indicate the unemployment rate decreased in Los Angeles from 10.3% in December 2012 to 9.2% in December 2013. However, some supporters of extending benefits say the data does not present a true picture of the unemployment situation, which still has many Americans struggling to find a job while many other longtime unemployed workers have stopped looking.

A report from the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, the oldest committee of the United States Congress and the chief tax-writing committee in the House of Representatives, states that 1.6 million Americans, including 54,000 in Los Angeles County, have lost their unemployment benefits due to Congress’ failure to approve an extension before it expired in December.

It is estimated that about 326,000 more people in California will lose unemployment coverage in the next five months.

Congressman Xavier Becerra (CA-34) is a member of the Ways and Means Committee and chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. In a statement released earlier this month he called on the Senate — which the House is looking to for legislation before it takes up the matter — to work on a solution.

“House Republicans must drop their blanket obstruction to extending jobless insurance coverage to our fellow Americans,” he said, referring to the multiple times Republicans have blocked legislation that would have kept benefits in place.

While back in his district last week, Becerra stopped in at the WorkSource Center at Goodwill Industries in Lincoln Heights. The center helps the unemployed search for jobs, among other services.

“We need to help companies create more jobs but at the same time we cannot deny the few resources available that people need while looking for a job; to buy food and pay their rent,” Becerra told EGP. “For every open position that is available, three Americans are looking for that job,” he said.

Likewise, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) responding to the latest job numbers said that in some of the communities she represents in east and southeast Los Angeles, unemployment is still as high as “19.3 percent.” She said blocking the extension of unemployment benefits is “unacceptable.”

“Every week, the economic harm spreads even further across our nation. It’s long past time for Republicans to join with Democrats to extend unemployment insurance,” she stated.

While at Goodwill, Becerra listened to the center’s clients speak about their struggles, the same struggles he says he has heard in the voices of countless other unemployed Americans.

“I never thought I’d be in this situation because I always thought I knew a lot of people, and everyone knows someone else who may have a job,” said Diane White, who has been unemployed for almost a year and obtaining help from Goodwill. “Since I was laid off I haven’t found one [job] and I’m still here, still looking.”

Becerra said it seems many have forgotten two of the country’s most important principles: “economic security and rewarding work.”

“Every 8 seconds an American loses unemployment benefits, this must stop,” the congressman told EGP.

A majority of Republicans in both houses are opposed to continuing the extension of benefits, arguing the economy is improving and so are the job numbers. They also say the country cannot afford another extension, without cutting something else to pay for it.

There are some Republicans, however, who have indicated they would support a bipartisan solution, but who have also criticized Democrats for wanting it all their way.

“I have a number of members who feel the unemployment insurance issue is a serious matter that ought to be addressed, but addressed in a fair and bipartisan way, with the majority in the end deciding what kind of bill passes,” a USA Today quoted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY as saying.

Boehner says “any extension of unemployment benefits should be paid for and accompanied by measures that will help create jobs, boost wages, and grow the economy,” but Democrats have been more focused on the extension than creating jobs.

“One month ago I personally told the White House that another extension of temporary emergency unemployment benefits should not only be paid for but include something to help put people back to work,” Boehner said earlier this month, noting that “to date, the president has offered no such plan.”

The House Ways and Means committee, on its website, states that “economists agree that providing extended unemployment benefits is one of the most effective job creation strategies” during a period of high unemployment.  They said that “for every dollar of unemployment compensation spent it creates $1.52 in additional economic activity.” This is because jobless Americans “tend to spend their unemployment insurance right away.”

According to the analysis, in the first week after the unemployment extension expired, nearly 214,000 people in California lost the average $300 per week, cutting $65 million from the economy statewide.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates it would cost $25 billion over the next year to fund the extension if approved. However, it also estimates extending benefits for another year would save 200,000 jobs.

“Congress, give these hardworking, responsible Americans that chance,” said Obama during the State of the Union.

“They need our help right now, but more important, this country needs them in the game.”

—-

Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

 

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January 30, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

Comments

19 Responses to “U.S. Rep Becerra Meets With Jobless Workers at Lincoln Heights Center”

  1. Hans Dietz on January 30th, 2014 12:44 pm

    If Congress is more than willing to grant subsidies in the farm bill to farmers who don’t even need them, then it ought to do the same for the unemployed who really need them and we are talking here about very little money. Please extend the unemployment compensation.

  2. Barbara Stuart on January 30th, 2014 5:18 pm

    Please stop the insanity pass that extension,,now

  3. ray on January 30th, 2014 5:31 pm

    By not extending the unemployment compensation it is hurting the state and local economy, which in turn will cause more layoffs and higher unemployment.
    Please extend the unemployment compensation.

  4. N. Story on January 30th, 2014 7:02 pm

    Unemployment benefits aren’t going to be extended. Our elected officials simple don’t care. Its time we all face the fact that politicians lose touch with main street—that’s why they need term limits!!!!!!!!

  5. Edmund Monaghan on January 30th, 2014 8:45 pm

    Three years ago after I was laid off. My income dropped 55%. Now that my unemployment has expired. I am making around $6,000.00 per year from a part time job. In order for me to have some what decent health care. That costs about $350.00 per month. This leaves me with $1,800.00 per year to, pay the mortgage, utilities, car payment. Not much left, to provide for my family.. The other thing I can’t figure out. When the idea of everyone getting health insurance first started out with Obama. Before He said, that every american is entitled to affordable health care. Obama said Every american s should have the same kind of healthcare that Congress has. Well my question is this. How much money dose a Congressman pay out of their own pockets for health insurance every month.
    As a tax paying american for the past forty years since I was thirteen years old. I say to the Congress, let’s get off of the playground and get back to work and reinstate the emergency federal unemployment extension benefits. Election year is not far away, and my family and ballot is depending apon you. Thank You and God Bless.

  6. carlos holmes on January 30th, 2014 9:00 pm

    this is making people do stupid things to just get buy like kill rob still hate n believe to take is right just to get by for dem selves

  7. Cindy Dennard on January 31st, 2014 4:49 am

    I was laid off for a year about 8 years ago (before extensions) I finally got a job paying less than half of the one I lost. Last June I was laid off from that job when contracts were lost. I am over 55, well educated and have been looking diligently. There are very few jobs out there besides minimum wage and I’ve been told I’m overqualified too many times to count! I need help even its just a few months. My 401k has been depleted, along with my savings. Please extend the benefits.

  8. kent hinton on January 31st, 2014 8:29 am

    I think that every week the unemployed go without a check the people in Congress that are holding up the extension of EUC benefits should have there pay checks held back from them & c the effect it has on the people. The unemployed have no nest egg it is pay check to pay check. & when just one is missed it is a very big hurt on the family & now a month with no income? Our government has to take care of Americans before any money is sent over seas. Please see what u r doing to good people that would rather work than draw unemployment but if the jobs aren’t there then what are we to do? Next will be the crime rate will start climbing. Men aren’t gonna watch their families.starve.

  9. Mike Moore on January 31st, 2014 9:03 am

    We give BILLIONS in aid to other countries. 5 billion a year to egypt alone. This Idea that we can not help our own people make me sick to my stomach. In my 50 years I have not seen so much hate and dissent from a political party towards it’s own people. Absolutely disgraceful.

  10. Left Behind on January 31st, 2014 9:10 am

    Fed Employment Ext. 2014
    First of all, I can’t believe as human beings, that we would even consider to leave anyone behind. We are the leaders of the free world and should be proud to be an American.
    This is not the time for bickering or for name calling or even whose side are you on. The real truth is, we are all Americans and the time has run out. We are on our last breath looking for a life preserver to keep us from drowning and it’s very clear that’s exactly what we are asking for. We and our kids are suffering now. Please make their future a better place now. That’s all we ask for.
    As Americans we give of ourselves. We as Americans, have in the past, run to the aid of world disasters in the blink of an eye. We need to show the world that we can help in the same way we do for others as we should do for ourselves. We need to help thy neighbors as thy self with no hesitation.
    I don’t know how many times we have stand up to voice ourselves on how serious we are in these terrible times. We as good Americans are at the end of our ropes. We have worked very hard all of our lives and we have given everything, even our lives to make this American country a better place to live in. The Congress needs to help in the recovery of its own people of this great nation now.
    This is a very sad day for all of us to see how heartless some of us can be when it’s time to help the unfortunate in the hour of need. Just remember, if this was happing to you and your families, you would be more compassionate I believe. Apparently you can’t see or hear how serious this is for Millions of Americans that are in need now… Remember the Titanic.
    Our sufferings have gone on much too long. We are at the point of losing everything we have fought for all of our lives. Our kids will lose too.
    Stop the name calling and excuses. Congress you need to step up to the plate and pass this renewal of Emergency Unemployment Compensation. It is a privilege to you Congressman that we voted…

  11. Left Behind on January 31st, 2014 9:15 am

    you into office to represent us. We also have the right to vote you out… Do the right thing and help us Americans that have been left behind… You need to do the right thing. We need you as Americans to pass this bill Now for Americans!
    Stop the nonsense Congress and Be a Real American!
    John Wayne would do the right thing without hesitation, before the sun went down.
    Now is the time for All GOOD MEN to come to the Aid of Their Country!

  12. Sasha on January 31st, 2014 10:22 am

    I agree, we Americans need more Job creations. But we Americans shouldn’t be punished right Now. Please Extend the EUC for at least three months for the People who’s behind, who’s starving, who don’t have funds to go search for job or get to any. Picture, no income for an entire MONTH!? I have never been in this predictament and I promise you I will never rely on the Government again.

  13. patsy on January 31st, 2014 3:26 pm

    As I was picking up needed food at the local food line( my first visit in my sixty years of life) I met two other families suffering from the ext problem. I have always given to those less fortunate and now I am those. This is a very humbling experience. I have searched for any position I am qualified for and those I could be .I look for work every hour till late at night and see the same jobs offered day after day on the internet. The sites are seldom updated as anyone that works as hard at this as I do knows. I will be homeless at the end of Feb. if something does not change.I have used the one month allowed for help with rent in a year allowed by united way and am out of options. I go to the library and read adds in the paper but they are few and specific in qualifications. At least I am only one person and am expendible but the two families I met at the food line have families to keep how do you tell a child there is no dinner today

  14. Andrew on January 31st, 2014 5:11 pm

    UC has been stopped & I’m still unemployed. I apply for 8-10 jobs weekly have worked seasonal positions from Oct 2013 thru Jan 2014 and now i work part time driving for a limo company. I’m willing to work and pick up any and all shifts! Companies simply are not hiring and with Obama – care many companies are laying off employees, or post they are hiring but promote internally only. Many rely on UC as we struggle to rejoin the work force with a wage we can ACTUALLY live on! Please extend UC

  15. Fed Up on January 31st, 2014 7:20 pm

    I have nearly two college degrees and could not get a job in California, and I was disqualified from jobs like Dollar Tree and McDonalds because of my education. I wish the President also audited these crazy hiring managers. If I can serve my country, get a degree, and deploy overseas, I’m sure I can also flip a burger to feed my son. But I guess people with degrees hates eating food. That way our stuff won’t stink. Just a little humor during my rough time unemployed:(

  16. Carmen Rivera on February 2nd, 2014 7:30 am

    I have been working all my life , now, not working my office closed and i am now unemployed for the first time… here is New Jersey and have no funds at all to feed myself or pay rent… i may be loosing my apartment at any time… im getting depressed .. i think the unemployment office really doesnt help looking for work.. you go there with the jobs on the list they look up no response from employers what so ever… no contact to for interviews .. you apply online and get no response either.. its a nightmare… in the cold i visited banks, office.. job agencies .. and nothing.. i had interviews and no call backs.. How do you find work.. when you are 52 yrs old and maybe you’re age is a barrier..HELP!

  17. David on February 2nd, 2014 10:21 am

    This is the brick wall so many long term unemployed face during job searches. Tyson Foods(large corporation) must not have signed any pledges for even an entry level job. This was posted on Indeed jobs website.

  18. william anderson on February 3rd, 2014 3:47 am

    We as americans need to take action ourselves also. we need to make better choices as to who we put in office. any one of those congressmen or senators who vote no on extending unemployment has to be replaced. not helping these people is not acceptable under any circumstaces. Don’t let them dance around the isue either by saying i would do it if its paid for some other way bullshit. its our tax money i don’t care if they take it out of here own pay. america its time we take our county back and get rid of this do nothing congress enough is enough

  19. Joann on February 5th, 2014 8:30 am

    I just can’t believe that our Congress cannot see that unemployment .extensions need to be passed. People are looking for work but can’t find a job. I am one of those people. I am not lazy and would love to work and help my family, pay my bills and put food on the table while looking for work

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