Friday, November 22, 2013

A Letter to Congressman John Boehner

Dear Congressman Boehner:
My name is Paul Hallasy. My unemployment benefits are due to expire next week and my extended unemployment benefits are due to expire at the end of this year thanks to a law passed by Congressional Republicans (led by you, as Speaker of the House) to cut both the amount of extended unemployment benefits as well as their duration.
I am looking at the very real possibility of becoming homeless or, at the very least, being forced to apply for welfare and food stamps (which you have also cut) for the first time in my life (in the middle of the holiday season, no less).
Rather than passing legislation to create jobs, you and other Congressional Republicans have done nothing but cut benefits for the weakest segment of our society, benefits that would not only prevent people like myself from falling more deeply into poverty but would actually improve the economy, since they would be spent immediately, rather than hoarded like the tax cuts you passed for corporations and wealthy individuals.
For your information, Mr. Speaker, people who can’t find jobs in this economy are not “lazy” and people who rely on benefits to survive are not “takers” (as Mitt Romney famously put it). They are veterans, children, senior citizens and people like myself who have struggled mightily to find a job but still been unsuccessful.
I have spent every day of the last five months actively looking for work, answering want ads, networking on LinkedIn, and attending networking events and seminars. I’ve had seven in-person interviews so far, but no job offers yet. Clearly this is not a matter of my being “lazy.” It’s more a matter of our economy still being weak five years after the financial collapse of 2008 (which Congressional Republicans also exacerbated by weakening regulation of financial institutions), as well as a vicious cycle where companies keep cutting jobs to improve their profits because nobody has any disposable income to buy anything.
Just before writing this letter, I called your office and your representative had the audacity to suggest that it was Senator Harry Reid’s fault that unemployment benefits were not being extended, when it’s Congressional Republicans who have stonewalled every piece of legislation or nominee President Obama has put forth since he took office, to the point where Congress had to finally (thank God!) overturn the filibuster on executive and judicial nominees.
I hope that, as you’re gathered with your family this Thanksgiving and over the holidays that follow, you reflect on the untold pain and suffering you and your fellow Congressional Republicans have caused millions of Americans like myself.
Paul Hallasy
P.S. I filmed an interview with CBS News on this subject this week and took that opportunity to (correctly) point out that Congressional Republicans are the ones responsible for unemployment benefits not being extended.

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