by Colleen Rivecca
This December, Congress has some important decisions to make — decisions that will have a significant impact on the number of people experiencing poverty in the United States. If Congress does nothing, Unemployment Insurance and payroll tax cuts will expire at the end of the month.
It is rare that Congress is faced with a decision that would almost immediately save a large number of Americans from needlessly experiencing poverty. Analysis from the venerable Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that extending the payroll tax cut will help keep 1.1 million Americans — low-income workers and their families — out of poverty.
Congress also has a chance to help people who are currently unemployed from falling into poverty. Last year at this time, Congress and President Obama extended Unemployment Insurance for 12 months, a move that kept more than 3 million Americans out of poverty. The extension of Unemployment Insurance that was passed last December will expire at the end of this month. If Unemployment Insurance is not extended, many struggling unemployed people may lose their Unemployment benefits before finding new jobs. Unemployment rates are still high and many unemployed people have been searching for work for a very long time. In fact, research from the Pew Economic Policy Group shows that more than half of the long-term unemployed have been looking for employment for more than 12 months.
Not only do Unemployment Insurance and the Payroll Tax cut help to keep struggling people out of poverty, they also provide a much-needed stimulus to our economy.
Your Congressional representatives should hear from you on this important issue. Our friends at Network: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby have an easy-to-use form that allows you to send a message to your representatives.