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Analysis finds nearly one third of owed unemployment benefits have not been paid

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Bloomberg found a $67 billion gap between the sum of benefits paid out by the Treasury Department and the amount that is owed to jobless Americans.

Bloomberg analysis released Tuesday estimates that nearly a third of the unemployment benefits owed to jobless Americans have not yet been paid out, a finding critics described as a “scandal” deserving of more media attention as millions of people struggle to afford basic expenses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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“The Treasury disbursed $146 billion in unemployment benefits in the three months through May,” Bloomberg reported. “But even that historic figure falls short of a total bill that should have reached about $214 billion for the period, according to Bloomberg calculations based on weekly unemployment filings and the average size of those claims.”

That calculation likely understates the total amount of unpaid unemployment benefits, Bloomberg noted, because “it doesn’t include the millions of workers around the country still waiting to have claims processed by overloaded systems, or the retroactive benefits owed to some of the 7.8 million people now claiming under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for independent contractors.”

HuffPost reporter Arthur Delaney suggested that at least part of the estimated $67 billion in unpaid benefits may be the result of people “getting cut off according to the Trump administration’s return-to-work policy.”

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More than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since mid-March, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The unprecedented wave of jobless claims in such a short period produced enormous backlogs of unpaid benefits as outdated state and federal systems struggled to cope with the surge in benefit applications.

Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute noted in a blog post last week that more than one in five U.S. workers are currently either receiving unemployment benefits or waiting for approval. Shierholz said “policymakers need to do more” to provide people with financial relief as the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic continues.

To that end, Shierholz urged Congress to extend the $600 weekly boost in unemployment benefits provided under the CARES Act, which is set to expire on July 31.

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“We also must provide more funding to state [unemployment insurance] agencies to hire staff to speed up processing and to make improvements to websites and other administrative infrastructure,” wrote Shierholz.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Monday showed that nearly 60% of Americans support extending the benefits, but President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have both said they support allowing them to expire at the end of next month.

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Here is how the 99% can force the 1% to defeat COVID-19

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The government's response to the pandemic has further enriched the wealthy, while everyday people, especially Black and Brown workers, face sickness, death, and destitution. Government handouts to the rich are unsurprising, since they repeat the century-old pattern of "rescue packages", but another pattern is more perplexing: why have business leaders not stepped up to demand a robust public health response, which would ultimately be in their own self-interest? The titans of industry have mostly stood by in the face of Trump's criminal negligence, which has devastated much of the 99% but also endangers the wealthy.

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Trump ripped as a ‘traitor’ by veterans for his mask photo-op at Walter Reed Hospital

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The veteran advocacy organization Vote Vets on Sunday blasted President Donald Trump for holding a photo-op at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

After a round of golf on Saturday, Trump traveled to the hospital to be photographed by the press pool wearing a mask, which was a first since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vote Vets, which says it has raised over $120 million since being founded in 2006 and made over 50 million voter contacts, released a new video on Trump's visit.

The ad says it shows "what wounded warriors see when Trump comes for a photo-op."

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‘DeSantis should step down’: Florida’s GOP governor blasted as coronavirus surges across the state

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Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis was blasted on Sunday after Florida recorded the largest single-day coronavirus infection number of any state during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Florida hit an alarming one-day high on Sunday with 15,300 new coronavirus cases, shattering both the state and national record for new cases reported since the start of the pandemic," the Sun Sentinel reported Sunday. "With Sunday’s staggering surge in new cases, Florida eclipsed New York’s coronavirus peak of 12,274 cases on April 4."

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