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Members of Congress Confused On the Basics of Unemployment Extensions

November 11, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

There are plenty of issues standing in the way of getting the unemployment extension done in the lame duck — lack of time, concerns over the deficit, political insecurity after the midterms, etc. Here’s one we can try to nip in the bud.

HuffPo:

Do members of Congress and their staffers understand that if they don’t approve legislation to reauthorize federally-funded extended unemployment insurance by the end of November, two million layoff victims will prematurely stop receiving benefits during the holidays?

Apparently, many of them do not.

“We found ourselves over the weekend in a conversation with two public opinion analysts who were telling us that they didn’t think there was that much public support for this,” Robert Greenstein, director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told HuffPost on Wednesday. “And they thought by ‘extend,’ what we meant, and what the administration is proposing… was to not let anybody ever go off the side and to just keep adding weeks, which is not what anybody is talking about at all.”

“They told us that they thought a number of members of Congress and their staff were similarly confused,” Greenstein said.

The confusion is between extending the current level of unemployment benefits and adding additional weeks of benefits. You can extend benefits without adding additional weeks, but you can’t add additional weeks without extending benefits. There are unemployed people who are advocating for both, but the only thing Democrats are actually trying to push through is an extension of the current level, not additional weeks.

The question that is likely to come before Congress next week in the lame duck session is whether to continue to allow people who lose their jobs to get a maximum of 99 or 76 weeks of benefits (depending on the unemployment rate of their state), or to let the extension die and only allow unemployed people to get a maximum of 26 weeks (the standard state-provided level). This has traditionally been an easy and obvious choice for Congress. As the Center for Budget and Policy Priority has outlined, “the highest unemployment rate at which federal unemployment benefits have ended in previous recessions was 7.2 percent.” The current unemployment is 9.6%, and it’s not expected to go down any time soon.

According to the Labor Department’s most recent report, the average duration of unemployment has risen to 34 weeks. That means that if Congress lets federal benefits expire, most unemployed people would exhaust their benefits months before finding a new job.

Recently, the “99ers” movement has been getting more media attention (rightfully so), and this is probably what’s confusing members of Congress. The 99ers are folks who have exhausted all of the benefits available to them without having found a job. There are somewhere between 3-5 million of them currently (there is no official estimate from the government), and they are about to ballon in numbers as we reach the two year anniversary of the explosion unemployment with no recovery having taken place. Congress needs to find a solution for this issue — either additional weeks of benefits (as proposed in S.3706) or some sort of jobs program or stimulus. If they don’t, and unemployment stays around 10%, expect an explosion in civic unrest. But this is not what’s on the table for the lame duck. Congress will be voting on the traditional proposal of extending benefits while the country is in what feels like a recession and unemployment is very high.

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Comments

  • seanurse 11/11/2010 2:00pm

    thanks donny for your wonderful update. I think the world isn’t worth the effort anymore. I went to my first ever rolling food pantry last night. I got so depressed there was almost 1000 people there. all in the same boat as 99ers. I dont think our president or goverment knows what they have done to the american people. we wanted change not devastation. we dont need to worry about other countrys harming us. OUR OWN COUNTRY HAS DONE US IN. THE ONLY THING THEY DIDN’T DO IS GIVE US THE POISON. THIS WILL BE A SLOW DEATH OF ALOT OF AMERICANS. HAPPY HOLIDAYS AMERICA. WORK ALL YOUR LIFE TO END UP LIKE THIS!!!!!!

  • beenblue 11/11/2010 4:50pm

    Well I guess no one has a monopoly on common since on either side. Maybe they expect us to start sprouting mushrooms since they keep us in the dark and feed us bullspit. With such myopic thinking I`m surprised they find their way home from the car without a seeing eye dog. These people are more than confused, their just plane IQ deficient, I think I`ll call this abject stupidity, and it`s becoming an epidemic.

  • Comm_reply
    beenblue 11/11/2010 5:08pm
    Link Reply
    + -3

    OMG, I must belong at a rally making signs since I mis- spelled common sense, HEY, any of you tea baggers need a sign mocker ????

  • Comm_reply
    beenblue 11/11/2010 5:11pm

    OMG, it is an epidemic…… RUN

  • eavina30 11/12/2010 7:40am
    Link Reply
    + -1

    99ers should be ashamed that british students have more balls than any other 99er on this forum, Unite and Conquer, Together we stand!!!! It’s time, don’t wait until Monday, Give us Jobs or give us hell……

  • Comm_reply
    beenblue 11/12/2010 9:57am

    I`m pretty sure the 99ers are ashamed, and it`s not from lack of trying, it`s from a loss of self worth. Your talking about students, our situation revolves around grown ups who have lost , or are losing everything they worked for, for 20 or 30 years of their lives, and it`s a little late in life to start over. The most pressing matter to these people is trying to figure out is how to be homeless, and that`s true courage !!

  • KyleAbbott 11/12/2010 8:36am

    Where is the private charity in our communities now? Before, when times were tough, we relied on private charity and grace, not the government. If we had more of that, we could all quit complaining about the government not doing enough. If you ask me, the government does too much!

  • Comm_reply
    beenblue 11/12/2010 10:06am

    To much for whom ? the rich, or the poor !!

  • Comm_reply
    PassionateVoter 11/14/2010 6:45am

    Could it be that income for charities has plummeted? Could it be that there is too much wasteful spending in charities? For we know all to well the corruption and greed that befalls some that run such entities. In my opinion, those charities that do the most good with the least are usually the small local churches and the food kitchens. My husband and I have been unemployed for over two years and have received very little government assistance. He is in Africa earning peanuts now. We have lost everything except my canines which I sacrifice for. With all this spending and lack of results for Americans that want to work, they should have redistributed the spending to the masses. That would have helped those in need and fix our economy concurrently. Such a pleasant fiction…

  • craines 11/13/2010 5:55am
    Link Reply
    + -2

    It looks like people are giving up, keep the heat on, Harry Reids and Nancy P will come through but they have to hear from you. Debbie Stabinows (D – Mich) Bill is what you want passed.

    she knew if we lost the house at least there is a bill sitting there waiting, Bring this bill back to the spot light lite.

    CR

  • TheDutchess 11/14/2010 9:38am

    The problem is that both sides want it their way. The Dems can try and try to bring in the Tier V but without bipartisan support, it won’t happen, as I have said before. Don’t feel bad. When all the other 2 – 3 million workers exhaust their benefits and join the growing 99’ers, maybe we can roast marshmallows over a toasty fire on the sidewalk. Yea, on the sidewalk cause that’s why we’ll all be living soon – on the sidewalk right where the Republicans and the Tea Baggers want us!

  • Comm_reply
    nmeagent 11/16/2010 12:27pm

    Perhaps after living on the sidewalk for awhile you will stop voting for overt socialists.

  • TheDutchess 11/14/2010 9:41am

    I don’t think that they should even be talking about extending benefits for those receiving unemployment benefits. They should all expire at 99 weeks just like the rest of us 99’ers. They should be looking to pass the Tier V, which will give the 99’ers a lifeline. To keep extending the current tier does nothing to help those that have been out of work the longest.

  • beenblue 11/14/2010 1:04pm

    I never thought I would live long enough to see this country so divided, and polarized to an extreme as it is now. Is this what passes for love thy neighbor, or is that only in certain neighborhoods, or gated communities where everybody looks and thinks the same as their neighbors. We can not hope to survive the future if we continue to live in such an extreme of “Us and Them” And “Left and Right” Please take a break from fear and hate, turn off the TV, and go outside and play with your kids or dog, and realize were in this together, as in “WE THE PEOPLE”.

  • GDCal 11/15/2010 4:21am

    Well, if you think it’s hard finding a job now, just wait until several more million exhaust benefits due to Congress’ failure to act. Perhaps all 20+ million unemployed should march to the Capitol, and refuse to leave?

    On another topic, while Boehner and the rest of the Republicans plot to roll back “Obama’s” health care bill, please note that members of Congress are well taken care of by one of the best health care plans in the country, paid for by your tax dollars and the federal government. The Republicans should be asked at every single press conference to give up their ‘paid for by the government’ health care plan. What hypocrisy.

  • GDCal 11/15/2010 4:21am

    Well, if you think it’s hard finding a job now, just wait until several more million exhaust benefits due to Congress’ failure to act. Perhaps all 20+ million unemployed should march to the Capitol, and refuse to leave?

    On another topic, while Boehner and the rest of the Republicans plot to roll back “Obama’s” health care bill, please note that members of Congress are well taken care of by one of the best health care plans in the country, paid for by your tax dollars and the federal government. The Republicans should be asked at every single press conference to give up their ‘paid for by the government’ health care plan. What hypocrisy.

  • Adambomb 11/15/2010 9:09am

    There’s nothing like submitting two to four apps a day and not even getting a call back.What the hell are we suposed to do. twelve years in a construction field and it means nothing. It’s crappy to have to rely on people who are not effected by the economy and it’s crappy to need there help, but what other choice do we have!!!

  • floorburns 11/15/2010 12:33pm

    So our Washingtoncrats are confused about unemployment. Let’s make it easy:
    2 Million people with unemployment benefits that are about to run out means ZERO income, ZERO spending, ZERO funds back in circulation. Can I make it any plainer? Here in Indiana our Governor wants to cut the unemployment compensation because he says it’s to high. I would like to know were all the employment deductible each employer is charged for each employee has gone? There were years of good employment, this means employers were paying in with little unemployment. Where did it all go? Add unemployment to the list of stock market losses, mutual fund and 401K crashes with thousands of dollars lost by many of these now unemployed and there aren’t any cushions for employees or unemployed to fall back on. If Washington can live on $300.00 a week I know a few people that would trade places with them.

  • Kerlynne 11/16/2010 9:00am

    call OR e mail your Senators as part of a National Call-in to Congress Action Day this Tuesday, November 16.

  • leomoon11 11/16/2010 7:11pm
    director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told HuffPost on Wednesday
  • DeborahJBrown 11/21/2010 6:11pm

    There is absolutely no reason why, in two years, any member of the House or Senate, or any politician anywhere in the United States of America should not understand how the current unemployment insurance tiers work or the need for an additional tier v. We are in a recession! Unemployment hovers near 10%. It is their basic DUTY to understand this crisis that affects millions of American families. If I read that they were stumped about how to create jobs I’d be sympathetic. But,constantly voting NO or blocking votes on something they don’t fully understand? This is the single most incredulous thing I’ve heard in the 56 years of my life. Soon more than half of the approximately 6-8 million unemployed workers will be long-term 99ers. Millions of positions were eliminated and never restored. Basic elementary mathematics is all they need to be able to have a reasonable comprehension of the problem. To be claiming at this late date that they might need dunce cap is incomprehensible!

  • twistfinger 12/02/2010 8:51pm

    Why would they wait until the last minute to vote on this?

  • tomjw 12/03/2010 5:36am

    the united states should get out of all these wars that bush got us into,and concentrate the money and time on fixing this lousy economy.if the terrorists blow something up here we nuke them over there.after a few years of that playing out,i think they would rethink their plan about screwing with us.i wonder how much money we spend every month hunting down a bunch of backyard terrorists.we kill a few here with a $500,000 missle ,a few there with american lives,lets face it,we are in their ballpark and we are the losing team. so lets get the hell out and start looking at this problem in a different light.but first take care of americans or else the terrorists that american polititions should fear will be americans themselves!!give us work or give jobs but stop giving us these dancing around congress shows!!

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