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Hullabaloo


Friday, January 03, 2014

 
Pushing on the Overton window: A study in contrasts

by digby

Republicans want to roll back labor laws to the 19th century:
Wisconsin state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R) is attempting to roll back one of the state's progressive labor laws, arguing that workers should be allowed to work without a day off if they so choose.

"Right now in Wisconsin, you're not supposed to work seven days in a row, which is a little ridiculous because all sorts of people want to work seven days a week," he told The Huffington Post in an interview.

Wisconsin is one of the few states in the nation where businesses "must provide employees with at least one period consisting of 24 consecutive hours of rest in each calendar week." This doesn't mean that workers get to take off once every seven days; an employee could work for up to 12 consecutive days "if the days of rest fall on the first and last days of the 2 week period."

Grothman said he finds this law "a little goofy," and he argued that rolling it back is a matter of "freedom."
Harry Reid would just like to go back to the 20th:
It’s a bit surprising this didn’t get more attention. But the other day, Harry Reid told a Nevada newspaper that he’d like to expand the unemployment insurance program, not just extend it.

This would go significantly farther than the current proposal in the Senate to extend unemployment insurance by a mere three months:
The three-month unemployment insurance extension the Senate plans to vote on next week won’t make any changes to the current eligibility structure for federally backed emergency benefits.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is thinking about pushing to change how eligibility for emergency unemployment benefits is determined, making it easier for the long-term unemployed to access benefits as the economy improves.
Reid told the Las Vegas Sun during an interview Monday that he’d like to lower the per-tier unemployment rate threshold that determines when jobless workers in hardest-hit states can claim the maximum weeks of benefits. “Hopefully, we can bring that number down,” Reid said during a telephone interview.

The short version of this is that under the current proposal to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, the overall program would extended three months. But that doesn’t mean all people on unemployment insurance get three months more; their duration is dictated by how much they’ve already received, and how long the duration of those in their tier are supposed to last. Each tier — there are four of them — is dictated by the unemployment rate in their states.

What Reid is proposing is to change the structure of the program, so that those in states with a high unemployment rate – but one that’s not high enough to qualify for the maximum of 73 weeks, the top tier – would get the maximum length. In other words, the duration of benefits would last longer for more people.

Reid told the Las Vegas Sun that he won’t push for this restructuring of the program until the three month extension is secured (which may or may not happen). And obviously, this is going to be a huge lift, given that even the temporary extension’s passage is in doubt.

But the broader point is that this is another reminder of just how far to the right the debate on these matters has drifted. A mere three month extension of unemployment benefits is thought to be politically extremely difficult, even though it may be unprecedented for Congress to let UI lapse with the long term unemployment rate this high.

I think it's great that Reid will be pushing for a restructuring. It's long overdue and Lord knows his Nevada constituents need it. But under current political restraints that is indeed going to be a heavy lift. Still, you have to start somewhere and these Dems finally recognizing that they only get right wing policies when they fail to participate in setting the terms of the debate is a long time coming.

But in order to properly offset GOP lunacy, we should probably have some Democrats in the states at least proposing a guaranteed minimum income or something. After all, that's a completely nutty idea last espoused by that hippie communist Richard Nixon.

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