10.20.2020 2

5.4 million lose unemployment benefits since August as Pelosi puts politics above people

By Robert Romano

More than 5.4 million Americans have lost unemployment assistance since mid-August as benefits have run out, according to data compiled by the Department of Labor, 55 percent of which are in states governed by Democratic governors.

Small business relief, supporting 5.2 million small businesses and 50 million jobs, ran out on Aug. 8 and airlines ran out of money last month as massive layoffs have been ensuing.

In the meantime, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) continues to refuse a deal from President Donald Trump to extend these CARES Act programs — even if it means she loses a few seats in the House over it.

The rationale of course is political. As long as Pelosi believes she won’t lose the House majority over the lack of a stimulus measure before the election — no President since Truman in 1948 has reclaimed a House majority in a bid for a second term — there is not much in it for Pelosi.

Naturally, Pelosi would like to see who wins the White House first. If Biden wins, she can get a better deal in her eyes, even if it means her constituents in blue states are the ones who suffer more.

And even if Trump does win, Pelosi does not want to give him a political boost in the closing days of the election. Or so the thinking goes.

In fact, the top ten states in the country with the highest unemployment rates in August before today’s release and prior to workers losing their benefits are all run by Democratic governors with the worst lockdowns:

Nevada 13.2%
Rhode Island 12.8%
Hawaii 12.5%
New York 12.5%
California 11.4%
Massachusetts 11.3%
New Mexico 11.3%
Illinois 11%
New Jersey 10.9%
Pennsylvania 10.3%


Those numbers are slightly down in September, but the drop off from the August levels, sadly, is largely people losing their benefits and exiting the labor force altogether. In September alone, 879,000 Americans left the U.S. labor force nationwide.

Pelosi is putting politics above people — her own people — something President Trump is keen on. In an Oct. 15 tweet, Trump blasted Pelosi for the holdup, stating, “Pelosi is holding up STIMULUS, not the Republicans!”


And public opinion could be coming the President’s way. A Yougov poll from Oct. 9-11 found 43 percent of Americans blame Pelosi for slowing the legislation down, including 10 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of independents. Only 40 percent blamed the President, with just 3 percent of Republicans and 35 percent of independents.

In addition, Republicans are leading in voter registration in many battleground states including Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. That, plus turnout, could have major implications on the race for the House of Representatives in 2020.

Remarkably, the House and Senate agree in principle on extending unemployment, small business relief, helping the airlines, some funding for states and sending more checks to the American people in the way of tax credits. Both have bills that do that albeit at different price tags.

The House bill would go further with its $3.3 trillion price tag that has since been knocked down to $2 trillion. The Senate bill, the HEALS Act, comes in at $1 trillion and it extends unemployment, sends the checks, extends small business relief and takes care of the airlines.

In between the two, the White House has offered a $1.8 trillion compromise approach to keep momentum in the economy still reeling from the state-led COVID-19 lockdowns when 25 million jobs were lost when labor markets bottomed in April. More than 14 million jobs have been recovered since but the speed of the recovery slowed considerably in September as the government programs ran out and states largely keep schools and many other businesses closed.

Trump is framing his closing campaign arguments around the economy, asking which direction we want to move in: reopening or lockdowns?

In an Oct. 17 tweet, Trump declared, “This election is a choice between a TRUMP RECOVERY and a BIDEN DEPRESSION. If you vote for me, prosperity will surge, normal life will fully resume, and next year will be one of the greatest years in the history of our Country!”

That is a stark choice for the American people. And if they go with Trump and there’s no deal on stimulus, it could even bring Republicans back into the majority in the House of Representatives. If Pelosi acts before the election that will be why. Stay tuned.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

Updated to include September numbers and the drop off in labor participation month over month.

Updated 10/22/20 to include week of Oct. 10 data.

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