Activist Lisa McCormick said progressive Democrats should boycott the election rather than reward Wall Street millionaire Governor Phil Murphy, who approved $17 billion in new corporate welfare but refused to use his power to use New Jersey’s share of the $350 billion American Rescue Plan state and local fiscal relief fund to provide additional payments to unemployed workers whose benefits expired on September 6.
“Rather than maintain the chain of money moving through the economy as New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy runs a risk of losing $265 million per week, which circulates very rapidly and has a multiplying effect,” said McCormick, who noted that the economic injury coincides with Labor Day.
“President Joe Biden that said states with unemployment rates that are higher than the national average — 5.4% — could use COVID relief funds to extend benefits beyond the Sept. 4 expiration date, which would save 392,644 state residents,” said McCormick.
Biden was urging some hard-hit states to fill in the gap when federal Covid-era unemployment assistance expires by using federal aid money to continue offering benefits to their jobless residents. but Murphy rejected that advice and decided to use the federal money for other things.
Even as the economy continues to recover and robust job growth continues, there are some states where it may make sense for unemployed workers to continue receiving additional assistance for a longer period of time, allowing residents of those states more time to find a job in areas where unemployment remains high.
These programs were enacted in the first the COVID pandemic relief measure, known as the CARES Act, and extended in last December’s omnibus legislation and again in the American Rescue Plan legislation.
Those programs have been a critical lifeline for millions of Americans who were unemployed, through no fault of their own during, according to McCormick.
By passing the $3.5 trillion budget resolution and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, Congress has taken a critical step but while working families know help is on the way, this situation puts America one step closer but help has not yet arrived,” said McCormick.
“Four federal unemployment compensation programs will end abruptly on September 4, although any weeks of payments that can be claimed prior to the expiration date may still be paid retroactively if a claimant is determined to be eligible for those weeks of benefits,” said McCormick. “Under current legislation, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), Pandemic Extended Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits can be paid through the week ending September 5, 2021, but after that, all of this assistance will be cut off on September 6, with no grace period.”
Taken together, these programs have delivered nearly $800 billion in assistance to families over the course of the pandemic, but McCormick warns that this aid will soon abruptly come to an end for 7.5 million workers on the two main programs, PUA and PEUC.
Some residents will still have access to regular state unemployment insurance payments as well as other assistance through SNAP, rental assistance, low-cost health insurance and cash aid for families with children.
Those that have exhausted regular benefits may be able to get the Federal-State Extended Duration (FED-ED) benefits but this program ends 11 September and even if a claimant has a balance left on their claim no payments will be made.
“Refusing to use money that is there to help unemployed workers, is just another sign that our millionaire governor is out of touch with the needs of New Jersey,” said McCormick. “Murphy’s administration has failed to distribute federal dollars allocated for rental assistance and he pulled the rug out from under nearly 400,000 families who cannot find employment while the Delta variant is pushing hospitalizations higher. This is outrageous incompetence and a complete lack of compassion that voters should remember in November.”