Georgia will consider cutting back weekly unemployment checks by $30 next year to help pay off a federal loan the state assumed to maintain benefits for hundreds of thousands of jobless workers.
But the move is being criticized by advocates of out-of-work Georgians, who say Labor Commissioner Mark Butler is favoring businesses over workers
In a meeting with some of the legislature’s House and Senate leadership Thursday, Butler proposed cutting weekly jobless benefits for top earners to $300 from $330. Any changes would have to be approved by state lawmakers and Gov. Nathan Deal. If a benefits cut is approved, it would not impact workers now drawing checks but those who make new claims.
Advocates for workers would rather the state ask businesses to pay more into the state’s unemployment insurance fund…
The news came on the same day the state labor department released September unemployment figures. The number of jobless rose to 10.3, the highest in Georgia since January….
Butler said he’s weighing other options, including reducing the number of weeks that Georgians can receive benefits from 26 to 25 or lower.
The federal loans were necessary because when times were good, Georgia politicians cut the amount that employers were required to contribute to the unemployment insurance fund, leaving it short of funds when it was needed. Now the problem is being solved on the backs of Georgia families wondering how to make the rent payment, buy groceries and keep the heat on.
Family values at work.
Meanwhile, up in Washington, our two senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, joined their 45 Republican colleagues in voting unanimously against a plan to spend $35 billion keeping teachers, firefighters and police officers at their posts. The vote — which needed 60 supporters to break yet another GOP quasi-filibuster — means that public safety will be compromised and classrooms left empty.
The measure would have been funded with a 0.5 percent surtax on incomes of more than million dollars.
As an alternative, Chambliss, Isakson and their colleagues have proposed what they call the “Jobs Through Growth Act,” which among other things would lower the top individual tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, cut the top corporate tax rate to 25 percent and keep the system revenue neutral.
Lowering rates for corporations and top-end taxpayers — the current 35 percent marginal rate applies only to income above $379,150 for a couple filing jointly — would inevitably require higher taxes on the rest of us. But I suppose that’s a sacrifice that the rest of us should be happy to make, given how they’re struggling in this economy.
Just to reiterate, the chart above, provided by the St. Louis Federal Reserve, tracks AFTER-TAX corporate profits.
– Jay Bookman