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Schumer Promises Help for 99ers, But Skips the Details

August 2, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The most shocking data point on the unemployment situation in the U.S. isn’t that we’ve been above 9% for almost a year and a half now. It’s that the median length of unemployment for individuals currently is 26 weeks, which is twice as long as it has ever been since the government began tracking this data in the ‘60s. Anyone who is unemployed for longer than 26 weeks is considered “long-term unemployed” by the government. Right now, that’s about half of all unemployed people, and it will likely be more than half in the very near future. Here’s a graph from the St. Louis Fed laying it out.

Over the past two years, Congress has repeatedly extended unemployment insurance benefits beyond the normal 26-week period. Currently, unemployed individuals in states with high unemployment rates (above 8.5%) can receive up to 99 weeks of benefits. But all of those extended benefits are set to expire on November 30, 2010 and after that it will be back to just 26 weeks of benefits in every state. Furthermore, economists estimate that at least 1 million people have already exhausted all 99 weeks of their benefits (so-called “99ers”). By the time the current benefits extension runs out in November, that number will probably be closer to 2 million, and approximately 1.5 million people each week will be added to the ranks of the exhausts.

Unless, of course, Congress acts.

In light of all this, watch Sen. Chuck Schumer [D, NY] last week on WENY-TV:

Schumer says that a bill to help 99ers is coming — at some point — and gives no further details. In some sense, this is a step forward for the 99ers. It shows that members of Congress are hearing them and that they are starting take on the cause at least for their political advantage. But we don’t have enough information at this point to know if this is anything more than that. Here are a few things to watch for when the bill is introduced.

1) What, exactly, will Schumer’s legislation look like? Will it be straight-up additional weeks of benefits for 99ers, some kind of reemployment account program, or a job-training benefits program? The latter two options would probably have more support among conservative Democrats and Republicans, but they will also provide somewhat less support to the 99ers.

2) Does it have the support of the leadership (i.e. Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] and House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi [D, CA-8])? If not, this is just a throw-away bill that Schumer plans to drop in the hopper and let die like 96% of all bills do. Of the 140 bills Schumer has sponsored this session, only 3 of them have become law. As we know, any member of Congress can introduce any bill they want, and they often introduce stuff they know has 0% chance of passing just to give themselves quick credentials on an issue. So far, Reid and Pelosi have been silent on help for the 99ers, so it’s possible that this is a lone-wolf effort on Schumer’s part and that it’s not really going to be a viable bill.

In the interview Schumer says “we” (i.e. “we’re gonna try to do that next”), so it’s possible that he’s referring to the Democratic caucus as a whole. But he could also be referring to himself and a few rank-and-file co-sponsors. We’ll be watching for statements of support from Reid and others when the bill is introduced. 

3) Will it be offset, and, if so, how? Over the past two years, support for extending unemployment benefits as “emergency spending,” which does not have to be offset under the Pay-Go law, has progressively weakened. In November 2009, the Senate voted 97-1 for such a bill. In March 2010, they voted 78-19 for another unpaid UI extension. And on July 20, 2010 they passed one with no votes to spare by a vote of 60-40. The trend is pretty obvious — as time progresses, there is less and less support for emergency unemployment insurance extensions. And in July the Democrats were stretched to their limit on their emergency UI bill. 

Many Republicans (plus Democrat Sen. Ben Nelson [NE]) say they would have voted for the July bill if its costs were offset with money taken from the Recovery Act. However, using stimulus money to fund another extension that includes help for the 99ers probably wouldn’t pass muster with most Democrats. They argue, rightly, that taking money out of the Recovery Act to pay for UI benefits neutralizes the stimulative effects of both. Sen. Scott Brown [R, MA] recently forced a vote on paying for the UI bill with Recovery Act money and it was opposed by all but two Democrats — Nelson and Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR].

So, if Schumer wants to pass this bill, he will probably have to offset its costs with new revenues and do it some way other than taking money from the Recovery Act. Off the top of my head, possibilities include closing tax loopholes on hedge funds, eliminating offshore-oil-drilling subsidies, or some sort of a financial transactions tax. None of those things would be easy, but it seems almost impossible for Schumer and the Democrats to pass extra unemployment insurance benefits and help for the 99ers without winning on one of these big, untapped revenue sources.

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Comments

Displaying 121-139 of 139 total comments.

  • Comm_reply
    justamick 08/09/2010 2:25pm

    Apparently not even CURRENT news.

    You wanted proof that your president said the recession is over. Stop balking over the proof and RECOGNIZE the truth.

  • Comm_reply
    ExGOP 08/09/2010 4:12pm

    Garbage as usual. I said America is in a CURRENT economic depression. Stop twisting the truth with old news articles and RECOGNIZE YOU ARE WRONG.

  • Comm_reply
    justamick 08/09/2010 7:26pm

    lol how is providing you proof, verbatim, twisting the truth? Have you ever actually researched anything on your own? Or are you like the rest of Americans? You let main stream media feed you lies and perpetrate hate. You see conspiracies everywhere.

    I guess you also just ignore the fact that Obama hasn’t repealed the Patriot Act like he PROMISED to? But it’s okay as long as HES the one doing it… After all, he is the lord and savior.

    Before you start with your “you republican lover” talk, I was against the patriot act and I still am. It is a GROSS violation of civil rights! I was also AGAINST run away government spending… still am… All things I’m very sure you were more than willing to protest against during 8 years of bush, but now are oddly silent about now that obummer is in office.

    FYI, December 2009 IS current events and IS current news.

  • Comm_reply
    bcarney 08/10/2010 2:47pm

    Justamick,

    You shouldn’t make comments about the rest of the Americans in your posts because generalizing when you don’t know for sure is a sign of ignorance. I think that we are all aware that main stream media is biased and that they have their own agenda. This site is for discussing what is going on with unemployed Americans, sharing stories so that no feels alone during these hard times, and posting accurate information relating to “our” (99ers) plight. We have been hit the hardest and the longest in this recession through no fault of our own. Additionally, we are not the only one’s suffering as we have families/children who are suffering too.

  • Comm_reply
    bcarney 08/10/2010 2:49pm

    Also Justamick,

    We are all American and many of us have worked all of our lives, paying into taxes and watching the money (many times) go out to a cause that we may or may not agree with. However, this issue is on our own soil. We have worked so hard our whole lives and this is why we should be considered for an extension of help especially when no one is hiring. We want to work, but we are not getting call backs and/or interviews. We have sold our belongings, lost our homes and cars, and are now struggling to feed our children. Have a heart. This is an emergency and must be treated as such. If the shoe were on the other foot, I would be glad to have a couple of extra dollars taken out of my pay to feed your family and others.

  • Comm_reply
    bcarney 08/10/2010 2:51pm

    The real question is why do these people, who make upwards of $200,000 a year,take long vacations, and waste so much time making critical and time sensitive decisions? If their salaries were reduced by something like $40,000 they would still live well and many families could survive with the revenue from that reduction. My point being there are ways to help these unemployed Americans in an emergency and rightfully so. Please don’t forget that we have paid taxes and their salaries for years as well and now we need some help. It is not our fault that the recession occurred nor that it is lasting this long so blocking an extension would be in no one’s best interest.

  • Comm_reply
    bcarney 08/10/2010 2:51pm

    I don’t know where you work but when no one is spending many organizations are forced to lay off or go bankrupt, ultimately causing more job loss. Please respect the fact that your fellow Americans are struggling right now. We do not wish this on anyone, hopefully you and many others will be fortunate enough to sustain your employment but many of us have not been as fortunate. Please be more kind to people who are starving and aggrivated because it seems no one cares.

  • Comm_reply
    justamick 08/10/2010 7:00pm

    Sir, or ma’am, I do respect the vast majority of these posters, with one exception.

    If you seriously read what I said, you would have seen I was very polite (with the exception of one poster).

    And I sincerely hope and pray that the people who are hurting right now get relief. I sincerely hope they get into jobs VERY soon. I just believe that the current political establishment is to blame for he woes of the unemployed Americans.

  • Comm_reply
    justamick 08/10/2010 6:56pm

    bcarney,

    Yes, you are correct. I shouldn’t generalize. Unfortunately what is a fact here is that there is a large population of Americans that cannot think for themselves. The are indoctrinated into a way of thinking by the media as a whole and the educational system.

  • Comm_reply
    justamick 08/10/2010 6:56pm

    There’s a lot of people suffering. I agree. What I don’t appreciate is getting attacked for offering an alternate solution. People don’t want to hear it because of the before said indoctrination. People fear because the media, the education system, and politicians drive that fear. Seriously, how lazy is it for a person to just not help another person out because their taxes are their charitable donation? I’m not saying it is the case for everyone, but I believe you can attribute the decline of charitable donations to the intervention of the Government and I believe it is wrong. Label me evil because of it. The third largest party in the country, the same party I affiliate myself with, believes the same way I do.

  • Comm_reply
    ExGOP 08/10/2010 9:11pm

    Why do you keep referring to Obama as Lord and Savior? I only know of one Lord and his name is not Obama. You’re the only one I ever heard say that. Are you getting it from Hannity’s favorate 3 words? Again, broaden that narrow tunnel vision pea brain of yours and listen to something besides FoxNews. Who do you worship, besides yourself? Mohammed?

    FYI … last years news is not current news retard. Once again, there’s no basis for your illogical unintelligent remark. I bet you consider googling research. Hasn’t anyone ever told you that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet? Durrrrr.

  • Comm_reply
    justamick 08/09/2010 7:50am

    Some advice for you… If you really dont have a job, maybe you should cancel your Internet service. You might save a few bucks a month.

  • Comm_reply
    ExGOP 08/09/2010 12:32pm

    Who says I’m paying for internet service? Here you go again assuming something you know nothing about. Spare us all with your condescending unqualified financial advice. I prefer not to take the advice of a sociopath with multiple (user id and/or IP address) personality disorder.

  • Comm_reply
    justamick 08/09/2010 1:39pm

    Who’s condescending? Oh,right, it was you. You wouldnt happen to be Rep Pete Stark would you? Only someone like him would be so rude and contemptuous towards others.

  • ExGOP 08/04/2010 1:12pm

    BREAKING NEWS (MSNBC) – Senator Stabenow introduces a bill for the 99ers “The Americans Want to Work Act”. She say’s to contact our local reps to request that they support this bill!

    Thank you Senator for stepping up for the 99ers!

  • RubberBoots 12/20/2010 12:10pm

    OMG While u guys are arguing this fat thing called the gop is fixing to end me and my way of life.

  • RubberBoots 12/25/2010 7:20pm

    The exstention that Obama signed did nothing for these people. It only allowed recently laid off workers to continue past the regular deadline. I in no way think trading these hostages for a tax break for the rich was a good thing as a matter of fact it was an obvious ploy to keep all of Americans temper down against the rich tax break witch threw our national debt even further to the extreme ringer.

    75 percent of Americans do not even vote even as registered voters.

    I hope this is a wake up call for people in this country to vote, because as you see there are villains in congress that finally 10 or so years ago passed a bill to allow 10,000 factory jobs to move over seas under the bush administration. Bushes comment on this was they couldn’t find people to do these jobs butt C’mon, you know the truth. The truth is he couldn’t find people in America willing to work for 50 cents an hour. Many of these so called 99ers have been working any where from 5 to 45 years.

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