Saturday, June 15, 2024

Comentarios from Maria: Extending Unemployment Benefits, Key to Latinos

Maria-CNN-HeadshotLast Tuesday, the U.S. Senate overcame an obstacle to advance towards a vote that would extend unemployment benefits to 1.3 million Americans who recently lost their coverage.

Shortly after, President Obama praised Senate Democrats for their persistence to continue fighting for this bill to be advanced to the House of Representatives and eventually to his desk for his signature.

The President also praised the few Republicans who joined the effort and voted to end the debate and proceed to a vote.

But even prior to the bills arrival to the House of Representatives, which is controlled by a majority of Republicans, excuses were given to prevent 1.3 million Americans from having access to these critical benefits.

One excuse is that they should not extend benefits without looking for ways to pay for them. This is really a surprise since during the presidency of George W. Bush, unemployment benefits were extended 5 times, and none of these benefits were immediately paid for. And where were the Republicans back then? Voting to extend coverage.

The truth is that these benefits are critical to the millions of Americans who need them, which includes Latinos. Our community, having an unemployment rate of 8%, need this coverage.

These are benefits that help millions of families put food on their tables and have extra money for basic needs, including home mortgages, car payments, and health insurance.

But even with the critical need to extend these benefits, Republican extremists dared to say that these benefits encouraged Americans to stop looking for work. These allegations, false and illogical, are frankly an insult to the millions of people who just want a decent job that gives them satisfaction and helps support their families.

Since 2008, over 11 million people have been above the poverty level because of these benefits, including 600 thousand children in 2012. And if Republicans choose not to act, 3.6 million more people will have their benefits taken away.

And last but not least, about 240 thousand additional people could lose their jobs this year if that coverage is not extended. This is due to the inability of those who are unemployed, to pay bills or buy essential things, resulting in people consuming less than what is produced and local businesses eliminating thousands of jobs.

The truth is that these figures speak for themselves. But still, with all the obstacles that Republicans have placed in the way of 1.3 million Americans, Republicans still have time to reflect on the issue. And if they think that Latinos are not aware of the toll that this would take on their communities, just because it is not a presidential election year, they are wrong. Just wait until millions of Latinos make their way to the polls for this year’s mid-term election; the votes will speak for themselves.


This piece originally appeared in Spanish in the Washington Hispanic