If you have ever gone without any income or benefits for 45 days, welcome to the world of roughly 2,138,000 Americans this week. What crime did they commit? They had the effrontery of not being able to find a job before June 2, 2010, when Congress allowed extended unemployment benefits to expire.
"Oh, extended" you say? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6.8 million unemployed Americans have lacked a job for more than six months. That's 46% of out-of-work Americans, which is an all-time historical high (a detailed study on this is available from the National Employment Law Project here).
Now, of course, not all of them will lose benefits right now. But keep in mind that federal extended benefits had provided up 99 weeks (close to two years) of benefits in some states.
That sound too long? Republicans thinks so: they say the benefits are keeping people from looking for a job, which is ridiculous since the last national unemployment figure shrank to 9.5 percent only because people left the workforce in huge numbers. They were discouraged just before Congress cut them off.
Now they're just plain desperate.