UI Benefits at Risk

Starting tomorrow, House and Senate conferees will attempt to reach agreement on payroll tax, unemployment insurance, the "doc fix" and TANF provisions. There are several areas for concern, not the least of which is how bi-partisan agreement can be reached on anything these days.

The most controversial perhaps is the proposal to require drug testing and/or a high school diploma/GED in order for jobless workers to claim UI benefits. The Center's Bob Greenstein had a few things to say about that in his blog http://www.offthechartsblog.org/an-appalling-idea-even-by-washington-standards/

This, however, is not the worst of it. Hard to believe, I know. The problem is that if another proposal to allow states to waive federal requirements around UI compensation and processing goes through, there would be loopholes to allow "flexibility" to do these things anyway, as well as make other damaging changes to the system which currently helps keep so many out of poverty with limited jobs available.

Other issues of concern with a waiver include enabling states to use funds marked for job training and other helpful things for other purposes, and efforts to scale back the number of weeks from what has already been reduced. Heather Shaw and Chad Stone go into more detail about how UI could be undermined in their new paper http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3656

If this all outrages you as it does me, stay tuned for action alerts when it gets down to the wire. You can also follow me on Twitter, @SarahsCAHS for more frequent updates.

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