Congressional Republicans have a new way to brighten the holidays back home:
GOP leaders hope to build momentum for an end-of-year tax package with sweeping reforms to federal unemployment benefits.The Republican proposal is expected to reduce the total number of weeks unemployed workers are eligible for aid by as much as 40 weeks and tighten rules for eligibility.
The Republican strategy here is to horse trade cuts in unemployment benefits for extending the payroll tax break for Americans who have jobs. They're dividing the 99 percent, pitting the have-nots against the have-somes, and not very subtly.
In any case, with at least 5,691,000 Americans out of work for 27 weeks or more -- 43 percent of the total counted as unemployed -- cutting off the unemployment insurance that people paid for when they were working seems like a spectacularly bad idea.
(Chart: Calculated Risk Blog)