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Unemployment Relief? 11 Million Americans Facing Cutoff

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EDITOR NOTE: One of the most tragic and debilitating conditions that a crisis can impose upon you is one that has no winning scenario; a lose/lose; a choice between worse and “worst.” Right now, 11.2 million Americans are unemployed. There are hundreds of thousands more to come. Enhanced unemployment benefits via COVID stimulus were extended last December but are slated to end on March 14. As lawmakers debate an adequate extension, millions of unemployed Americans are teetering on the edge of a financial cliff. An end to stimulus means an end to rent and food payments; it means not being able to feed oneself or one’s family. The need for stimulus is urgent. Yet more government spending presents a non-urgent but equally devastating problem: it erodes Americans’ financial well-being by claiming future income. And given the new strains of COVID--new or mutated strains that may render some current vaccines ineffective--there’s no guarantee that another lockdown won’t happen, and that more fatalities won’t befall the population. As I said at the top of this commentary, there is no winning situation here. The dollar, the economy, and your wealth are under attack by forces against which there are no comprehensively effective solutions. But you do have a choice of hedging and possibly reversing all losing scenarios by investing in (non-CUSIP) gold and silver, effectively preserving and growing your wealth as every other solution leads to a SNAFU outcome.

It’s deja vu all over again for jobless Americans.

Some 11.2 million Americans will be cut off from receiving unemployment benefits by March 14, according to estimates calculated by Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the liberal-leaning Century Foundation.

Some 12 million Americans almost faced a similar fate at the end of last year while Democratic and Republican lawmakers finalized a stimulus package that was ultimately signed into law on Dec. 27.

Out-of-work Americans have been receiving unemployment benefits through two CARES Act programs — Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation PEUC).

The PUA program allowed self-employed workers, freelancers, gig workers and independent contractors to collect unemployment benefits. It helps those who have exhausted their state unemployment aid.

In addition to $600 stimulus checks, the package extended PUA and other CARES Act unemployment programs to mid-March, and reinstated enhanced unemployment benefits to $300 extra a week to mid-March.

It’s likely that jobless Americans will continue to receive enhanced unemployment given that it’s included in President Joe Biden’s $1.9-trillion stimulus package proposal, as well as a counter stimulus proposal supported by at least 10 Republican lawmakers.

Also see: Here’s what’s in the $600 billion relief plan from 10 Republican senators

Biden’s package calls for increasing the enhanced benefits to $400 per week through September. The Republican proposal calls for keeping the $300 per week through the end of June.

The two proposals differ more significantly when it comes to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. Biden’s proposal calls for extending these two programs through September while the $600-billion Republican proposal leaves out these two programs entirely.

But that doesn’t mean Republicans won’t reconsider adding in the two programs, said Ed Mills, Washington policy analyst at Raymond James. “Both sides really know that to get a bipartisan deal there’s going to need to be a compromise.”

Lawmakers understand that “all politics is local,” Mills said. They don’t want to be in the hot seat come mid-March when people are “wondering whether or not the aid that they have depended upon to pay their rent pay for food is going to continue — or if it’s going to expire.”

Originally posted on MarketWatch

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