Jobless Benefits About To Lapse As Senate Dems Mull Strategy

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are discussing their strategy for reauthorizing extended unemployment insurance on Tuesday as the expiration date for the jobless aid is fast approaching.

Neither the House nor the Senate will be in session next week, aides say, so extended unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless will need to be reauthorized this week before they expire on Nov. 30.

Two million people could prematurely lose their benefits by New Year’s Day, according to the National Employment Law Project. Currently five million people are receiving aid under two federally-funded programs for the long-term unemployed.

Yet no clear path forward has emerged in Congress for reauthorizing those programs. Aides have floated the idea of coupling the benefits with a reauthorization of the expiring Bush-era tax cuts for the top two percent of earners.

“I support extending unemployment benefits whichever way we can do it,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) told HuffPost before heading into a weekly caucus lunch with other Democrats.

Sen. Ben Nelson, a Nebraska Democrat who sided with Republicans when they blocked the previous reauthorization for nearly two months this summer, said he doesn’t love the tax cut deal.

“That’s a mistake,” said Nelson, who has joined the GOP in opposing the extended benefits unless their deficit impact is offset with spending cuts. “Unless unemployment is paid for, I can’t support it.”

(Nelson and Republicans do not insist on offsetting the deficit impact of tax cuts for the rich, estimated to be near $700 billion. The progressive Economic Policy Institute puts the cost of a full year’s worth of extended unemployment benefits at $65 billion.)

“I think what we want to do is not give $700 billion in tax breaks to the richest people in this country and cut back on the needs of Americans who are really really hurting,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) before meeting with his colleagues. “I’m walking into the room, those are the things I’m going to fight for.”

A lobbyist who has been pushing for a year-long reauthorization said Democratic leadership sees tying unemployment to the tax cuts as an effective strategy. “Leadership is very aware of the beautiful symmetry of tax cuts for millionaires doesn’t need to be offset but $293 a week for the long-term unemployed does.”

Aides have said it’s not likely a deal on unemployment will be sorted out this week, meaning a lapse is highly likely. It would be the fourth lapse in a year. People who missed checks during the previous lapses were paid retroactively when Congress got the job done.

The programs needing reauthorization kick in after a layoff victim’s initial six months of state benefits are exhausted. If the benefits lapse, people whose state benefits end after Nov. 30 will be ineligible for the additional 73 weeks of benefits granted to people laid off closer to the beginning of the recession.

State workforce agencies have made it through some of briefer lapses without a major interruption in benefits, but NELP estimates that this time, 800,000 people in the federally-funded “Extended Benefits” program, which offers 13 or 20 weeks, depending on the state, will almost immediately stop receiving checks when the program expires.

People receiving benefits in any of the four “tiers” of federally-funded “Emergency Unemployment Compensation,” which provides up to 53 weeks of aid, will be unable to move to the next tier or to EB once their current tier expires.

HuffPost readers: Would you be affected by a lapse? Tell us about it — email arthur@huffingtonpost.com.

From The Huffington Post

8 Responses to "Jobless Benefits About To Lapse As Senate Dems Mull Strategy"

  1. hsr0601  November 21, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    1. The rebs have chanted : Are you listening to American people ?
     
    The majority of Americans support the idea of extending unemployment benefits to the jobless, according to a poll out from Hart Research Associates.
    Nearly three-quarters of the 802 registered voters surveyed agreed that it was “too early to start cutting back benefits for workers who lost their jobs.”
     
    2. Are the reps listening to America people ?
     
    According to CNN polling, voters said that unemployment is roughly twice as important as all other top issues combined.
    Despite the fact that unemployment remains above nine percent, the incoming House majority has made it clear that jobs and unemployment are not at the top of their to-do list.
     
    3. Are the reps listening to the outcry from their conscience ?
     
    (a). The reps shipped decent-paying manufacturing jobs overseas to lower production costs and eliminated the need to comply with those pesky environmental laws.
     
    (b). The recession caused by the reps wiped out as many as 8.2 million jobs, but they don’t care !
     
    (c). Throwing people out into the streets in the cold this holiday season, the heartless, cold-blooded death panels are having a good night’s sleep.
     
    (d). Never before has Congress decided to cut-off extended unemployment benefits when the jobless rate was so high. And not since the 1930s have so many unemployed job-seekers been out-of-work for so long.
     
    (e). The 154 members who voted against the extension may find their principles are very costly indeed—far more than the $12.5 billion their yea votes would have cost.
     
    4. Are the reps listening to the various reports ?
     
    (a). Ending federal extensions would drain the economy of $80 billion of purchasing power, according to a report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee. Every dollar spent on benefits increases the gross domestic product by $1.60, the report said.
     
    “Workers receiving unemployment insurance payments are typically cash-strapped and will spend their benefits quickly,” the report said. They spend about $6.5 billion a month on the local economy to buy essentials such as food, clothing and utilities.
     
    “A failure to extend the unemployment insurance program could hamper the fragile recovery,” the report said. It predicts that consumer spending will fall by $50 billion over the next year if benefits are not extended, and that economic growth will be reduced by 0.4 percentage points by February 2011.
     
    (b). Bloomberg News reported that some economists estimate not passing an extension might result in the economy growing 0.4 percent less between December and February, a significant bite when GDP growth has been hovering in the anemic 2 percent rage
     
    (c). The CBO reports that the BEST WAY to spur growth is to increase aid to the unemployed. Other efficient ways to grow the economy is by investing in infrastructure and providing more aid to the states.
    The CBO also says that without extensions in 2009, the poverty rate might be 15.4 percent, more than a full point higher than it is.
     
    (d). A similar report from the California Budget Project said that unemployment benefits put $225 million into the nation’s economy every day in 2010.
     
    Some economists worry that if jobless workers keep receiving extensions, they will stop looking for work. But the dearth of jobs in the labor market makes that point moot, the California Budget Project said.
     
    “Cutting off federally supported unemployment insurance benefits would make unemployed workers more desperate to find work, but it would not make them more likely to find work, because jobs are scarce,” the report said.
     
    At a time when there are five unemployed workers for every available job, it seems inconceivable that these unemployment benefits would be allowed to expire.
     
    5. Are the reps listening to the denouncement over their duplicity, two standards ?
     
    (a). The Bush tax cut for the greedy without providing a way to pay for its costs will add an additional $700 billion to the deficit over a decade,
     
    (b). Republicans have trumpeted the need to extend huge tax breaks to the wealthy and to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Both actions would significantly increase our nation’s debt and lead us down the road to bankruptcy, another major concern for voters.
     
    (c). On the one hand they want to provide $700 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest, but not pay for them. On the other hand they demand that unemployment benefits for the middle class be paid for. It’s kind of like someone on a diet ordering a Diet Coke and a Big Mac simultaneously.
     
    (d). Back when Bush was pushing his tax cut packages through Congress in 2001 and 2003, supporters said the cuts (which weren’t balanced with spending reductions) would initiate an era in which the American economy would grow so robustly the nation would be running a surplus of more than $5 trillion at the scheduled expiration date. U.S. now runs a deficit of about $1.3 trillion
    In sharp contrast, Former President Bill Clinton left a record surplus, despite the warning of potential economic disaster over tax increase for the wealthiest.
     
    (e). Since the you-fix-the-deficit puzzle went online, there have been more than one million page views, and more than 11,000 posted Twitter messages about the puzzle, most including their own solution.
    The most popular option among all respondents? Reducing the military to less than its size before the Iraq war — included in about 80 percent of the solutions posted to Twitter.

  2. FT  November 21, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    There are already more than 6 million 99er’s, this number is increasing at an alarming rate with the passage of each week, but everyone tends to glaze over this staggering number. Now, it appears that our congress is going to add 2 million more people to this inconceivable number which represents real people struggling (without hope) to keep housing for their families.

    These, soon to be more than 8 million people, were displaced from employment by the greed. Not only do they have to provide for themselves, but they also have an average of 2.5 family members relying on each of them for financial support. The actual number of truly suffering and displaced is more than 28 million, once proud contributing members of the middle class (if you use the unemployment numbers generated by our government – 6 million 99er’s and 2 million Tiers 1-4). While the wealthiest 2% of our country are planning a splendid holiday season, all the unemployed can hope for is to receive extensions (including an extension beyond 99 weeks) so that we can be grateful to catch up on bills to the wealthy corporations. While the unemployed would like to frivolously spend money on Christmas, there is only enough aid in UI benefits to hopefully stave off homelessness. Happy Holidays America.

  3. b mcclellan  November 21, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Why not become a true colonialist, militant socialist, Marxist, Nazi, Gandhi big brother, too, our own? Whoops, I forgot were half way there. Hack.

    Again the onus, is down on us boys and girls. With greater frequency than at any time in our history the chasm between fairness and fealty gapes as the ruling class opens it’s maw to swallow that which will be the last sustenence we can provide.

    If you see a need and can deflect it’s course then by all means it is time for America to fall back onto herself, fore we are truly ruled by foreigners from the inside.

  4. Illegal Aliens In The U.S Make $30,000 Per Yr minimum  November 21, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    People don’t be so naive… We need to be peace full and negotiate as civil citizens first. Once political corruption and treason are confirmed. All U.S citizens must organize their local Militias and coordinate with all families in our military branches. Once this is done we can take action as citizens to declare a national emergency to remove and prosecute all illegal invaders, terrorist, traders, and corrupt in our government offices. We the people have the power to do so. All we need to do is organize all legal U.S citizens to be ready to fight when or if needed.

  5. Diane  November 21, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    I have been on unemployment (for the 1st time ever) after losing my job of over ten years, since June. My first claim (no extention) expires at the end of Decemeber. How is it fesible that I do not quality for any extensions? Some people have been on unemployment for years. I have whole heartedly been looking for work. If they do not reactivate tiers 1-4 I dont know what I will do. It seems unjust considering that I have been paying into unemployment for over twenty years and this is my first claim. I do not want to milk the system, I want to work. Its bad enough we lost our job, now we are losing our lifeline.

  6. Diane  November 21, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    BTW – all you hear about on the news is a Tier 5, what about the reactivation of tiers 1-4?? Nothing about that, nothing about the people who only receive 26 weeks and then kicked off. All we hear about are the 99ers who need more time. I’m not asking for another year, just a few more months.

  7. Jama Reed  November 21, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    The Reps just don’t care. Their goal is to drive the economy deeper into a hole and make Obama look so bad that the reps will win the next election. It doesn’t matter to them that they are ruining the lives of millions, that children are going to bed hungry… That their policies are ruining this country! It is all about power and money and keeping it in the hands of the few. They are too stupid and arrogant to believe that what happened in France and Russia will happen to them and they think the American people are a bunch of sheep who will just keep on taking the crap they are being given.

  8. A  November 21, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    If Congress cant extend unemployment benefits one month before Xmas, with a posted UI rate of over 9%, what can they do?
    What is the purpose of our government if it cant help the people?
    Its beyond pathetic….
    Its just laughable.
    I would rather have Jon Stewart in office. At least he would tell the truth
    Our Congress is just a bunch of deceptive, manipulative, and self-serving wack jobs…
    Like Boehner crying during his acceptance speech….What a damn turd.
    I am crying because this guy is still in office, and doesnt have a clue what the world is like.

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