New Boeing Lay Offs Prove Immediate Need for Economic Stimulus, Carper Offers Plan to Aid Laid Off Workers this Holiday Season and Beyond
Dec 13 2001
WILMINGTON, DE - The Boeing Company's decision today to lay off 1,500 of its 5,000 workers in a nearby factory proves the need for Congress to compromise and pass a stimulus plan that aids laid-off and temporarily unemployed workers, Senator Tom Carper said. Carper proposed passing a plan that increases unemployment insurance benefits, extends UI benefits an additional 13 weeks if they have already expired, helps cover the cost of health insurance and provides Delaware with $9 million in needed economic relief. Senator Carper is also proposing a one-month "payroll tax holiday" to stimulate the economy and prevent future job loss that Senate Majority Leader Daschle said "could find broad support." "For thousands, these will not be happy holidays. The economic recession claimed their livelihoods and took away their ability to provide for their families. Our economic recession is not over," Carper said. "Now is not the time for Congress to argue. Now is the time to help these families. Congress must pass an economic stimulus plan that gives help to those facing the New Year without a job and without the health care their employers used to provide. We can't let these families and our economy become victims of partisan fighting. Let's get together, compromise, and move forward." Hundreds of Delawareans work at the affected Boeing factory in Pennsylvania whose workforce was reduced by an additional 600 earlier this year. The news follows other announcements of layoffs, including over 2,000 Delawareans whose jobs were lost when DuPont Pharma was sold this year. "Working together, we can pass a plan to get Delawareans back to work. The country needs an economic stimulus plan that will create more jobs and get those who have lost them back on their feet," Carper said. "This plan, a payroll tax holiday and help for the unemployed, is something Democrats and Republicans can, and should support. It doesn't give Democrats everything they want, or Republicans everything they want, but it gets the economy- and these people- the help they need, immediately." Under the stimulus plan Carper supports, workers are eligible for a temporary weekly supplement to their Unemployment Insurance checks. The average weekly Unemployment Insurance benefit in Delaware is $219. The temporary supplement UI benefits, as provided by the stimulus package, would increase the average weekly benefit in Delaware to $251. The proposal also provides unemployment compensation for part-time workers. "Instead of giving away billions of dollars to large corporations like the plan that passed the House, we need to focus on the families who need the most help, those lower and middle class families who face an uncertain economic future," Carper said. "We need to overcome partisan differences and realize that people are hurting. The lay-offs at Boeing affect thousands of people in the Delaware Valley." As Carper said "losing your paycheck can be a disaster, but losing your health care can be a catastrophe." About 11.2 percent of residents in Delaware were uninsured prior to the current economic slowdown. Without a strong policy, this rate is likely to increase due to higher unemployment and rapidly rising health care costs. Currently laid off workers can continue the receiving the health coverage their employer provided by paying the premiums themselves under COBRA. But COBRA premiums average $7101 for families in Delaware. Those alone could consume 45 percent of the average Delaware unemployment check. Carper supports a 75 percent subsidy for individuals who are enrolled in their employer's health plan the day before they were terminated. Under the plan Carper supports, about 24,000 temporarily unemployed workers and their families in Delaware would receive $30 million in federal assistance to purchase COBRA coverage. The Senate package also creates a temporary state option to provide Medicaid coverage to workers who are not eligible for COBRA. States would also have the option of subsidizing the remaining 25 percent of the COBRA premium for low-income individuals and families. "As a former Governor, I often worry that when some people make decisions in Washington, DC they do not think about the consequences in state capitols like Dover," Carper said. "But the economic slowdown has diminished states' ability to provide help to its residents. We need to pass a package that gives Governors the tools they need to help their local economies." To help states cover expanded increased Medicaid costs, and other costs associated with the recession, the Senate economic stimulus package provides a temporary 1.5 percent increase in a state's Federal Matching Assistance Percentage. This provision would increase Delaware's FMAP from 50 to 51.5 percent, and would provide $9 million in needed state relief.