I was pleased to see that The Oregonian’s lead story yesterday brought attention to the extent of the hardship that would follow if Congress fails to extend emergency unemployment benefits before year’s end.
The story did a nice job reporting on the likely impact of ending the emergency benefits. It noted that the Oregon Employment Department estimates that without an extension 13,400 Oregonians would lose their benefits in January, a huge jump from the current monthly pace of 2,000. And The Oregonian story noted that the National Employment Law Center considers that estimate too low. According to NELP, 32,000 Oregonians will lose their benefits come January absent congressional action.
So what’s my beef?
The news article — not someone quoted in the article — claimed that “lawmakers face intensifying pressure to cut the federal budget deficit.”
But the article offered no evidence of such “intensifying pressure.” Thus, at best the claim constitutes editorializing in a news story. At worst, it spreads false information.
Lawmakers don’t face “intensifying pressure” to cut the federal deficit. Poll after poll shows that deficit-reduction is a secondary concern, at best, especially when compared to Americans’ support for job-creation.
For example, a CNN poll conducted in late August (PDF) showed that by a two-to-one margin Americans agreed that it’s “more important” to “create more jobs even if it means less deficit reduction” (68 percent agreed) than to “reduce deficit even if unemployment remains high.” (30 percent agreed).The same poll showed that it’s not just Democrats and Independents who put creating jobs ahead of deficit reduction; a majority of Republicans polled (54 percent) put creating jobs ahead of reducing the deficit (44 percent).
Notably, the polling took place before the Occupy Wall Street movement exploded nationwide, putting at the forefront of the national debate issues regarding the job crisis, income inequality, corporate greed and poverty.
If anything, the Occupy Wall Street movement here in Oregon and across the country reflects the intensifying pressure from the American people for Congress to tackle the job crisis and help the unemployed who are facing a loss of unemployment insurance benefits starting in January.