A time-lapse video of hundreds of people waiting in line to just talk to a real person about their unemployment claims in Lexington, Kentucky, should be making Mitch McConnell sweat. It was tweeted out by Lexington Herald-Leader reporter Daniel Desrochers Wednesday and made headlines nationally and internationally, as well as at home.
The wait continued on Thursday, with lines divided among people who applied all the way back in March and still haven’t received unemployment benefits, who were given priority, and everyone else. Hundreds and hundreds of people lining up for two solid days—the first person in line on Wednesday got there at 5:20 AM—and that’s just in Kentucky. This is happening all over the nation, and while that’s happening, McConnell is refusing to vote for extended, expanded unemployment benefits which will expire at the end of next month. That’s despite an urgent warning from the Federal Reserve. “The supplementary UI [unemployment insurance] will end this summer. At that point, it will be difficult for many families to meet their financial commitments—rent, food, utilities, and other payments—if the economic downturn continues and the benefits are not renewed,” the Fed said in a report just issued.
More than 140 of the nation’s top economists, including former Federal Reserve chairs Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen as well as a raft of former Council of Economic Advisers and Nobel laureates, agree. They’re calling on Congress to pass another big recovery package ASAP, before provisions in the CARES act including that unemployment boost expires. “Given current projections of economic need, this new bill should provide, at a minimum, continued support for the unemployed, new assistance to states and localities, investments in programs that preserve the employer-employee relationship, and additional aid to stabilize aggregate demand,” they write. “While the signers of this letter have different views on the optimal size and composition of the package, we all agree that an adequate response must be large, commensurate with the nearly $16 trillion nominal output gap our economy faces over the next decade, according to CBO estimates.”
That Congressional Budget Office estimate was released a couple of weeks ago, a couple of weeks in which McConnell continued to do absolutely nothing to save the economy. In which he did nothing to help the millions of people—including his own constituents—who are facing calamity and don’t see an end in sight. At the very, very least the Senate needs to vote on the HEROES Act that the House passed last month. That’s the very least, because that’s just a few more trillions in aid when the country needs at minimum $10 trillion to get through this. You don’t have to be a Nobel laureate to see that, though it helps to have a handful of them confirming it.
What did McConnell spend this week on, instead of pushing more coronavirus relief? Getting his little friend Justin Walker, who has been a federal judge for half a second, onto the second highest court in the land. From McConnell’s intern to D.C. Circuit Court judge in just a handful of years.
The state police said it will be an 8 hour wait from the back of the line to speak to a state employee about unemployment. pic.twitter.com/plGONcpS6n
— Daniel Desrochers (@drdesrochers) June 17, 2020