As the push by Republican Governors to lift covid-19 stay-at-home orders and “reopen” America for business intensifies, an interesting theme is emerging as the reasoning behind their hasty and quite frankly, reckless move. There is no question that covid-19 testing rates in the U.S. are nowhere near the levels that would justify safely reopening the states for business at this juncture. Texas in particular, is notoriously lagged behind in testing yet Governor Greg Abbott has slated this Friday(May 1), as the day many businesses in the states are authorized to reopen.
So what is the reason behind this hasty “reopen America” move by Gov Abbott, Reynolds, and other Republican Governors across the U.S.? The answer to this question lies in the national embarrassment the unemployment programs in these states have subjected these Republican governors to. Florida’s unemployment program in particular has become such a national embarrassment following widespread media reports, that Governor Ron DeSantis was not only forced to confess that it is broken, but also issued an executive order relaxing some of the requirements for workers to qualify for benefits.
This #Florida unemployment debacle has the potential to cost Republicans lots of elections in November.— Evan Donovan (@EvanDonovan) April 27, 2020
I am getting dozens of emails and phone calls from people on both sides of the aisle who are fed up, upset, crying, exhausted.
Unflattering media reports about the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) which handles unemployment claims in Texas have also been a constant source of embarrassment for Gov. Greg Abbott. The same story has played out in other Republican-controlled states including Iowa. Simply put, contrary to popular belief, covid-19 did not break these state unemployment programs. These programs have been broken for years, thanks to GOP’s anti-worker’s rights policies. Covid-19 simply exposed on a grand scale, the unemployment insurance sham in GOP-controlled states.
Well, it appears Republican Governors have settled on the “reopen America” push as a way of dealing with the unemployment insurance embarrassment. By hastily reopening businesses in their states, GOP Governors can technically force workers to return to work because refusal by the workers to do so will amount to quitting, which in turn disqualifies them from unemployment benefits. This is especially cruel and insensitive to minorities especially Blacks and Hispanics, who have a valid reason to fear returning to work before covid-19 testing rates are ramped up to a level that will reassure them that it is safe for them to do so. GOP Governors don’t seem to care about the plight of vulnerable minority populations validly fearful of covid-19 and appear hell bent instead, on blackmailing them back to work by threatening them with losing their unemployment benefits. This is precisely what Gov Kim Reynolds just did.
Gov Kim Reynolds specifically said, “If you are an employer and you offer to bring your employee back to work and they decide not to that’s a voluntary quit, and so therefore they will not be eligible for unemployment benefits.” Make no mistake about it folks, this is an “order” by Gov Reynolds and other GOP Governors to employers in their states to call back workers so as to forcibly take them off the unemployment rolls–essentially cruelly forcing people back to work regardless of their valid covid-19 fears. There is no effort being made by Gov Reynolds and others to fix the numerous problems covid-19 has exposed with the state unemployment programs. Forcing vulnerable people back to work appears to be the GOP Governors’ way out of the problem.
Bottom line folks, covid-19 has exposed some serious problems with the state unemployment programs, especially the ones in Florida and Texas. It is imperative that the mainstream media and members of Congress call for changes to these woefully broken state unemployment programs. Simply put, Governors Reynolds, Abbott, DeSantis and others must not be allowed to sweep these unemployment insurance problems under the rug simply by forcing their residents to go back to work. The GOP Governors must be forced to address the reasons why these programs are broken in the first place.
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