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Betting on the American worker

President George Bush signed the Extended Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program into law in 2008 to help families who had been dealt a rotten hand by the recession. At the time, we were in the midst of a growing economic crisis that saw the country losing as many as 800,000 jobs in a single month. The EUC program was implemented to help families who were struggling to get back on their feet, and the measure has since been renewed on a bipartisan basis as the economic recovery continues.

Now some members of Congress are considering ending the EUC. If that happens, 1.3 million people will lose their benefits on January 1st.

We've come a long way from the depths of the great recession, but now is no time to stop betting on the American worker. Unemployment insurance is not about getting something for nothing—quite the opposite. It's a device to keep people afloat while they fight to find new jobs. Last year alone, 2.5 million people were lifted out of poverty by unemployment benefits, a massive boon to the economy.

A refusal to extend this bipartisan measure—a measure which Congress has never failed to renew in similar economic climates—would be utterly irresponsible. It would cause 1.3 million workers to lose benefits and increase the likelihood that they will drop out of the workforce altogether.

And on top of that, it would inflict more unnecessary harm on our economy. The Council of Economic Advisors estimates it will cause the American economy to lose 240,000 jobs. And the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office—as well as the financial services firm JP Morgan—have projected that letting the EUC expire would drain GDP by 0.2 to 0.4 percentage points next year.

We have come this far in our economic recovery thanks to the determination of hard-working Americans. This is precisely the time to show faith in those who are still fighting their way back from hardship, not pull the rug out from under them.

Tell Congress to do right by the American worker.

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