In the Maine Media

December 3, 2010 by

The news today that the national unemployment rate has risen to 9.8% adds even greater urgency to the need for Congress to extend unemployment benefits for millions of Americans, including nearly 30,000 Mainers who will lose theirs between now and 4/9/2011.

In an editorial entitled “Unemployment vs. Tax Cuts” the Bangor Daily News urges Congress to “stick to the president’s proposal to extend the lower tax rates for those making less than $250,000 a year, which accounts for more than 95 percent of the U.S. population and most businesses.”  The authors make the case for extending benefits noting that “numerous respected economists have long said that unemployment benefits are a much bigger boost than tax cuts. Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s economy.com, consistently has found that extending unemployment benefits is one of the most effective economic stimulants. In an analysis he presented to the House Committee on Small Business in July 2008, Mr. Zandi found that extending unemployment insurance generated $1.64 for every $1 of cost.”

As further evidence of the necessity of maintaining basic supports for Maine’s working families, in a piece entitled “Cut in heating aid would create problems in Maine,” the (Biddeford) Journal Tribune editorialized on 12/2/2010: “In this season of political uncertainty, we hope the administration and members of Congress reconsider the idea of curtailing this essential aid.” The paper also notes that planned curtailment of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) would mean that “Maine’s 2009 allocation of $54.3 million stands to be cut to just $29 million.” 

And the Maine Public Broadcasting Network offers some good news for Mainers struggling to make ends meet in this tough economy.  In a report entitled “Extra Food Stamp Benefits Extended in Maine,” Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree announced that the Obama Administration will continue increased food stamp assistance in 17 states including Maine.  “Families in Maine were facing some dramatic cuts in their food stamps,” the Congresswoman said in a statement. “With Christmas and winter coming on, this is the worst possible time to pull the rug out from under people who are already struggling to make ends meet.”

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