San Francisco Sitting in the Tides Momentum conference, I couldn’t help taking some notes as Larry Mishel from the Economic Policy Institute showed his slides estimating that unemployment would rise to over 10% in 2010. More frighteningly, he said that when he added in underemployment the rates would be almost 18% then with 27,000,000 jobs – people! – impacted adversely. I tried to reconcile this impending “pain,” as Larry correctly called it with the headline in my lap from USA Today indicating that “States Say They Can’t Afford Costs Tied to $5 Billion Emergency Fund.”
The story furnished by ProPublica writers Michael Grabell and Chris Flavelle nailed the issue that almost half of the states in the US are going to walk away from the desperately needed money in the fund, because they are not willing – or able – to come up with their 20% share of this 4 to 1 federal to state match. This is money that goes directly to citizen wealth and survival and can be used as direct cash transfers, aid on expanding welfare caseloads, rent payments to forestall evictions, and even creating temporary jobs for the unemployed. The reporters highlight the plans and problems in a number of states like California, New York, and Tennessee. They also redlined Louisiana, which is already notorious for not taking stimulus money to help the unemployed, and now indicates that its budget crunch means that despite the fact that 20% of our citizens live in poverty, it doesn’t have the money to help them get out of poverty.
What the heck?!?