Judge Greg Mathis

On Dec. 28, 2013, more than 1.3 million Americans lost their Emergency Unemployment Insurance benefits. The program allowed individuals who have lost their jobs to receive additional unemployment benefits for up to 47 weeks.

The critical question on this issue is whether or not America should maintain its commitment to a robust social safety net for our nation’s working class families and other Americans that have fallen on hard times. It is the same ongoing debate between Republicans and Democrats in Congress over programs such as Social Security, the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance program (food stamps), and other forms of social assistance.

Republican leaders regularly criticize government support to working class families, but defend tax credits and government sponsored programs to benefit the wealthy. Billionaire Warren Buffett once stated that due to tax policies that favor the rich, his effective tax-rate of 17.4 percent was lower than his secretary’s 35.8 percent rate. A recent study by the National Priorities Project found that America’s top earners will receive an average tax cut of over $66,000 dollars while the bottom 20 percent receives an average of $107 dollars. The wealthy can write off loan interest payment for vacation homes, get special tax treatment on capital gains and certain inheritance assets, and large corporations use tax shelters to hide trillions in earnings.

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