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Unemployment Benefits Expire; What Will Congress Do?

November 29, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Federal unemployment insurance, which provides a lifeline for millions of long-term unemployed workers, expires today, and from here on out it’s going to be harder than ever for the Democrats in Congress to pass another extension.

The Republicans have officially begun chipping away at the Democrats’ majority in the Senate. Republican Mark Kirk was sworn in Monday, taking over for Democrat Roland Burris as the junior Senator from Illinois and knocking the Democrats’ Senate majority down to 58. Kirk has made his opposition to the Democrats’ plans for extending unemployment benefits clear, saying on Fox recently that he would vote against any extension that is not offset by new revenue.

The last time the Democrats tried to pass an unemployment extension, with Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] defecting, it took them six weeks to find the two votes they needed to get to 60. Assuming Nelson is still a “no,” now they will have to find three votes now to get 60 votes and break a filibuster. Not likely to happen given the time constraints.

So the Democrats have basically two options for getting this done. Either they find an offset — some kind of targeted tax increase or spending cut — or they tie this together with something the Republicans really want and force them to accept the unemployment extension along with it. Right now, the latter approach is looking most likely, with Democratic leaders already discussing a “grab bag” of compromise ideas to tie in with a vote on extending all of the 2001 Bush tax cuts.

From the perspective of the unemployed, the advantage of this approach is that the Democrats would actually have some bargaining power and could ask for a longer extension. A couple weeks ago when House Dems tried a stand-alone unemployment extension bill, they were trying for only three months. Today, Sen. Max Baucus [D, MT] introduced a bill to extend benefits for all of 2011, and that seems to be an emerging Democratic consensus given the Fed’s recent projections that the unemployment rate will stay pretty much where it’s at now for all of 2011.  Combined with an extension of the Bush tax cuts, the Democrats could go for a longer extension, or even try for adding more weeks for unemployed workers who have exhausted all their available benefits. There operable word here, of course, is “could.” There’s really no way to know at this point beyond pure speculation what they will actually do.

Of course, the grand irony in all this would be that the Republicans, who have positioned themselves against the unemployment benefits because they are not paid for, would end up accepting them because they so badly want to extend the Bush tax cuts, which are also not paid for. The result of all the compromising would be a massive deficit enhancing package, which is something both sides say they don’t want, but which neither are willing to oppose if they get a bit of something they really want in it. That said, the Congressional Budget Office has determined that unemployment insurance is about five times more effective at increasing overall economic output than reducing income taxes in 2011 (e.g. a la an extension of the Bush tax cuts).

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Comments

Displaying 1-30 of 43 total comments.

shakti 12/04/2010 8:00am

Let me start out by saying I truly pray for those of you who are TRULY out there looking for work and are TRULY willing to take any job you can find and have been unable to do so. Unfortunately I have personally seen another side to this. In the area I live there are alot of HELP WANTED signs and when I speak to other business owners they can’t get help. These are not high paying jobs but 12-15 per hour, many with benefits. I know personally of at least a dozen people who are unemployed and when I tell them about these jobs they say it is not worth their time, not their field, a cut in pay etc. I have no choice but to believe that the individuals I am speaking of just do not want to work! Those types of people do need to have their benefits suspended!!!! For those of you TRULY trying anything then I agree with helping you out. The system needs a much better checks and balance system.

shakti 12/04/2010 6:57am
in reply to Ktula7 Nov 30, 2010 7:40am

“people still losing their homes even though banks were given money to loan to help people keep their homes”
Look up Shared Loss Agreements—- the Government actually made it more profitable to the bank to foreclose on the property than to modify loan agreements or do short sales.

gerryd 12/02/2010 9:48am

I agree with the General. We all need to REVOLT in a civil way and let them know we are ANGRY!! I am tired of feeling humiliated, degraded, sad, and scared! I am quite surprised that the REPUBLICANS have not thought of just putting the millions of unemployed, who have lost and are about to lose their benefits, into a giant OVEN! I believe a man did that many years ago and I am quite sure that Mitch McConnell would probably be delighted to be the one to push the button to rid them all of, in THEIR WORDS, those people who are “ADDING TO THE DEFICIT”. After all, they do it to animals in the name of mercy. They are continually “water-boarding” us day after day so I am sure they would be very willing to do this instead!!!!

general 12/02/2010 5:53am

Revoultion is the only answer how much more can the working used to be middle class take enough is enough lets hear it people

g4jaxn101 12/01/2010 10:32am

Americans do not what to be in the predicament that they are in. We were not asked if we wanted NAFTA. We did not want to lose our jobs. We just want our elected politicians to represent us and do what we the people sent them to Washington to do. Instead they cater to the rich, big business and wallstreet. The rich politicians will ever do anything for the working man and woman of America. Our way of life has been permanently lost to greed.

tomjw 12/01/2010 5:32am

well the weathy polititions in washington are more concerned about how many nuclear weapons the russians have,not about the unemployed americans who paid for our weapons.why not,its easier for them to discuss, then the real and present dangers that we are going thru.without having americans working and paying taxes how do they expect to balance a budget ? with more people about to apply for social services from the government how do they expect to balance the budget?they dont.its just dancing around the real problem,and that problem is THEM!!!

gerryd 11/30/2010 8:09pm

I SWEAR JOHN BOEHNER IS AN ALCOHOLIC – HE HAS THAT LOOK. AND THAT SENATOR FROM MASS. APPEARED AS THOUGH HE WAS NIPPING HIMSELF WHEN HE GAVE HIS SPEECH TODAY!! BET THE MARTINIS FLOW BETWEEN SESSIONS. IF YOU DON’T WATCH C-SPAN I SUGGEST YOU DO. IT IS BETTER THAN ANY COMEDY SHOW. MITCH MCCONNELL LOOKS LIKE AN EVIL WEASEL – GOD I COULD GO ON AND ON AND ON!!!

gerryd 11/30/2010 8:03pm

I ALSO CANNOT WAIT FOR MORE EMBARRASSING INFORMATION TO BE RELEASED FROM THAT WIKILEAKS STUFF!! I HOPE THAT GUY GETS IT OUT BEFORE HE GETS CAUGHT. THAT HAS TO BE MAKING THEM ALL FEEL LIKE FOOLS NOT TO MENTION HOW AMERICA MUST LOOK TO ALL THE PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. HOW IN THE NAME OF GOD COULD A MAN BREACH THE SECURITY THE WAY THIS GUY DID?? THINK GOD HAD A HAND IN THIS? I AM A FIRM BELIEVER IN WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND AND ALSO THE TERM THAT “GOD DOES NOT LIKE UGLY” AND THERE ARE SURE A LOT OF VERY UGLY PEOPLE IN WASHINGTON!!!

gerryd 11/30/2010 7:57pm

After spending the day watching C-Span and literally throwing up, I got rid of every American Flag in my house, even the one that was draped on my husband’s casket because that is what he would have wanted if he were here. These horrific, greedy so-called Leaders UGH have made complete fools out of all the hard-working, tax-paying Americans who put paid their salaries for so many years and the News Media Anchors and Journalists, who are also millionaires as well and are down-playing the unemployment situation have done the same to all of us. I am a 99er and my heart goes out to all of you people who were turned down today. I got my last benefit in September and hundreds of resumes later have had only 4 actual interviews. THERE ARE NO JOBS THERE!! I guess the only thing I can suggest is that you do what I do each day – pray for a DEPRESSION and enjoy watching the Dow Jones Average Drop everyday because then THEY will be losing money and then they can see what it feels like!!

SunshineHybrid 11/30/2010 7:08pm

It is a sad time in our country. I have been reading many things on the internet concerning our impending doom. How many will die this winter because of lack of heat? How many will committ suicide and take their children with them because they feel that there is no hope? I have worked public work ever since I was 14 years old with the dream that things would get better and I would have a better life by working and being part of the American dream. What a lie our political officials have lead us to believe. The only people that have the American dream are the rich and they got theirs off the backs of others. Are we doomed for another holicost and the American people are going to be the ones to be exterminated? How many people have to be destroyed to make sense of all the wheeling and dealing in Congress? There will be an after life and believe me and you will pay then.

needwork7 11/30/2010 6:51pm
in reply to wmenges Nov 29, 2010 9:20pm

I have a stupid question i read that you mentioned your wife"s unemployment expires today. Which tier was she on? how long has she been unemployed?

yvonne8 11/30/2010 3:43pm

It isn’t the fault of the unemployed that jobs are not available. Yet Republicans declare the unemployed are not only lazy but insurance benefits prevent them from looking for a job. Fact is, if the Republicans were doing their jobs, instead of fighting with the Democrats; Republicans would get on the band-wagon to secure jobs for Americans. Why don’t the Republicans do just that. Because they know there are no jobs. It’s easier to blame someone else; point the finger and someone else; accuse someone else and name call someone else. Republicans know full well the economy will remain in the pit throughout 2011. It’s so much easier to finger point than to take the blame where the blame belongs. Repblicans protect their own: business owners, high-rollers, the rich, and the richer. To heck with poor people. To heck with the unemployed. To heck with the underemployed. To heck with Democrats.

Abaratarrr 11/30/2010 3:17pm

“Brown delivered the speech as he attempted a compromise on extending unemployment benefits that expire tomorrow. His compromise involved using unobligated federal funds to pay for the cost of extending the benefits
“Are we going to do it from the bank account, or are we going to put it on the credit card?” he added. "I know what I want to do. I’ll use the bank account. Let’s use money that’s already in the system and put it to good use immediately, by 12 o’clock tonight. Let’s do it!”

Under Senate rules, Brown’s proposal would have needed unanimous approval, but it failed because one senator – Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island – objected."

http://www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligence/2010/11/brown_gives_fei.html

so why do all of the headline read “unemployment extension blocked by republicans”?

Abaratarrr 11/30/2010 1:22pm

anyone that expected this bill to pass unpaid for with a unanimous consent vote is an idiot. this was all just a show meant for news paper headlines. It was a waste of time they are simply playing games.

beenblue 11/30/2010 11:52am

And as a post script : We need to remind the Republicans that are ignoring their fault in this fiasco, while calling us “lazy” and in need of “tuff love” That none of this could have been possible without them. It`s like they break into your house and vandalize your property, and blame you for not having better locks, then burn your house down as they leave to cancel your insurance. I think it would be great to have T-shirts that read “YOU BROKE IT , YOU OWN IT” we won`t forget. Let`s see them crawl over that truth, while they call for “tuff love” for their victims.

beenblue 11/30/2010 10:51am

And as a last suggestion, we are in need of a new flag that represents our currant moral and ethical climate, and I suggest the skull and cross bones to fly on Government and bank buildings. The least measure of honesty, as our Government has turned it`s back on the people of the red, white, and blue, and who served under that flag on other Nations shores, generation after generation in hopes of keeping the “American dream” alive for all Americans, generation after generation. The American dream was not supposed to be a one way street that led to the few on WALL ST. & K ST. supported by our representatives in Washington. To big to fail, is the same as to fat to diet. If my unemployment is a problem, then I suggest they deal with it since they created it in the first place. Unemployment is like car insurance, we paid into it, you hit me, now fix it, and quit blaming me for your problems. I`m tired of being ignored and made to feel inferior, YOU BROKE IT YOU OWN IT.!!!

Spam Comment

beenblue 11/30/2010 9:39am

WANT MONEY FOR UNEMPLOYMENT !!! cut the defense budget back to pre 9/11 levels.
WANT TO BALANCE THE BUDGET !!! do the same.
I`m not afraid of those outside our government hiding in caves half a world away, I`m afraid of those in our government disguised as representatives of our government, who serve the few, and terrorize the masses with wars and rumors of wars, so as to feed the insatiable appetite of the Pentagon and it`s contractors.( WE ARE THE OWNERS OF W.M.Ds) and I`m sure we have enough for now. It`s time to fix problems, not create them. We can no longer ignore the defense budget that takes in two thirds of government revenue, and only produces shiny “SYMBOLS OF FEAR.” The world should admire our compassion towards one another here in America, not view us as Imperial America who ignores their own, while spreading capitalism, not democracy abroad.

Adambomb 11/30/2010 9:23am

I cant belive that all the rep. care about is keeping there pockets lined, Screw the people i guess

Adambomb 11/30/2010 9:19am
in reply to michael_neelands Nov 30, 2010 9:06am

Thanks for serving our country.

Adambomb 11/30/2010 9:17am

I hope that they see this and hear it loud and clear. THEY ARE F#$@*^% THIS COUNTRY UP SO GOOD!!! I cant belive that theses politicians are going to do this to the american people on christmas no less. I wish they could exp. the kind of christmas that so many are going to have, instead or fates are decided by people who aren’t even effected by it. I will never respect a soul-less government. All they do is try and blame Obama, he walked into a s#*t storm created by the rep. There pointing the finger when they got three fingers pointed back at them.

michael_neelands 11/30/2010 9:06am

As a U.S. Army Sergeant Veteran, I put my life on the line for my country. Now I am putting my life on the line again because as of the first I will be homeless. My job field is Ophthalmologist Surgical Assistant, which there is nothing, look it up people. 19 years experience and now my wife and kids(3 dogs), will be now wife and I homeless. If you had cancer, you would look for a cure. I’m jobless, what do you think I’m doing? Yes I sit at home, but waiting for the phone to ring for a job interview! Resumes after resumes and even job applications for min. wage jobs. McDonald’s is not even hiring! Great way to put us on the streets trying to survive. Third world countries are starving and now the U.S. will be too. Go going Congress. Don’t expect me to pay my taxes next year because we don’t have nothing! I pray for the others in our situation. Now wonder people in the U.S. are turning against this nation.
Black Friday is everyday now for food banks. Congrats!

Rationalview 11/30/2010 9:05am

We are all in the same situation and for those of you who aren’t – hopefully, you never will be BUT I have to say – where were you all on election day??? Lots of blogs spoke about how we needed to keep the democrats in office – how they are literally our life line – yet, the republicans claimed victory in so many elections – sickening. And we have only ourselves to blame.

cliff999 11/30/2010 8:27am

you know that congress is about to give them selves another raise for cost of living. Is 170,000 a year not enough, sounds like way to much for someone working for the people

cliff999 11/30/2010 8:24am

i hope everybody is paying attention to who is stopping this from happening so they want make the mistake of reelecting them

Abaratarrr 11/30/2010 8:05am

Senate leadership is playing games again, THERE WILL BE NO EXTENSION THIS YEAR.

“Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pa.) said on a conference call with reporters that he hoped the Senate would approve a year-long reauthorization by “unanimous consent” on Tuesday afternoon."
It only takes one senator to block a unanimous consent request. HuffPost asked Casey what Democrats would do after unanimous consent is denied.

“Well, we’ll have to think of another way to get it done. Not just this week and this month, but if it takes longer than that we’ll have to stay at it,”"
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/30/unemployment-extension-de_1_n_789758.html

in other words they are bringing this bill to the floor in a manner were it will be imposable to pass so that they can make republicans look bad. Tomorrows headlines (republicans block unemployment extension for millions"

Sorry folks the people in washington think you are stupid.

cliff999 11/30/2010 8:02am

sorry meant kirk is the one term loser

cliff999 11/30/2010 7:55am

sounds like roland burris is going to be a one termer, what a #@*& its hard if your not born with a silver spoon in your mouth.How about congress takes some pay cuts since they’re failing the people.They should also give up the perks, free cars,drivers,security,and airfair anywhere they want to,i didn’t agree to pay for this things with my tax money.And who payed for all those trips Obama took when his term started taking his family everywhere,like france he said he took his family because they have never been.I’ve never been but i dont see tax money sending me and i pay it.What a waist of goverment if one party likes it then the must hate it really smart.I live in Texas and thier is no chance we will be re-electing any of these losers

beenblue 11/30/2010 7:49am

Would it be too much to ask if we built a few less bombs, and feed a few more people ! Korea is China`s problem, and the middle east is Russia`s problem. We insert ourselves in the worlds problems, while the very fabric of our society is being torn apart. We can`t help others when we can`t even help ourselves. Our representatives are looking outwards to future wars with no expiration date, while we are the victims of a Bush era fiasco, and are being labeled as “lazy” by the very people who created this nightmare, so as not to share in the guilt of a global melt down, and raise a new world order in it`s place from the ashes. To quote Forrest Gump “Stupid is, as stupid does.”

Ktula7 11/30/2010 7:40am

Simply put, the American people need our government to do something for us or this nation will fall. It’s their fault we’re here in the first place. Spending money on Wall Street, big automotive companies and banks. People are still losing their homes even thow banks were given money to loan to help people keep their homes. I mean, this whole nation is doing everything wrong! Give the consumer the money…it’s only going back into the economy. It’s a win win for everyone!

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