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With No Republican Support, Democrats Intro Bill to Help Long-Term Unemployed Workers

February 11, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Every week, 35,000 unemployed Americans reach the end of their insurance benefits without finding new jobs and join the ranks of a growing group of recession victims known as the “99ers.” According to the Congressional Budget Office, there are at least 1.4 million 99ers right now, and with the unemployment rate expected to stay high for several years, it’s statistically certain that that number will increase dramatically in the coming months.

Given the facts of the situation, some congressional Democrats are pushing legislation to extend the unemployment insurance lifeline to help relieve the hardship these people are facing. On Wednesday, Rep. Barbara Lee [D, CA-9] reintroduced a bill in the new Congress that would add 14 weeks to the current federal unemployment insurance system and provide those benefits retroactively for people who have already exhausted all their benefits. Lee introduced her bill, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Expansion Act, with 47 co-sponsors — all Democrats — and according to rumors she is already up to 60.

So far, however, no Republicans have signed on, and with the House under Republican control there is little chance of the bill passing without getting at least some Republicans on board. Whether Lee is hoping to move this through the regular committee process or as an amendment to another bill, it can not pass with Democratic support alone. The Republican position on unemployment insurance has long been that they will not supporting extensions unless the costs of the extension are offset. Lee’s bill, however, is not offset and as currently written would be financed by adding to the deficit. The Democrats argue that unemployment benefits pay for themselves in the stimulative effects they produce in a high-unemployment environment (and the evidence suggests that is true), but the Republicans have been unwilling to accept that argument.

When the Democrats controlled both chambers last session, they were able to bypass Republican opposition to extensions by declaring the costs “emergency spending” and using their raw majorities to muscle them through. But the situation with this bill, this year, is starkly different. First (obviously), the Democrats don’t have the numbers in either chamber to push through bills that the Republicans oppose. Second, this is not a simple extension of unemployment benefits like the ones the Democrats passed repeatedly last session. It’s an expansion of benefits — from 99 weeks max. to 113 weeks — which is a harder sell to Republicans who like to argue that unemployment insurance discourages people from finding jobs. Third, the Republicans have upped their offsetting requirements for this session. They won’t accept tax increases as a pay-for, even in the form of closing blatant loopholes that are exploited to provide unfair benefits. They want everything offset with spending cuts. That means Lee the Democrats would have to find another part of the budget to trim, a tall order given all the cutbacks that are already being promoted by the Republicans.

Obviously, Lee is well aware of these challenges. “Extending this emergency lifeline for unemployed workers will be challenging but just because something is difficult to do doesn’t mean you don’t try it," she told Michigan Live. “This issue is too important to millions of unemployed workers to just stand around and do nothing.” Indeed, it is too important of an issue to ignore, and it’s good that Lee is pushing on this. But, remember, introducing a bill is easy. Any member of Congress can introduce any bill they want, but that doesn’t mean it’s any more viable a proposal than before it was introduced. The vast majority of bills die in committee without ever seeing any action. The real work is building a coalition and finding a way in the legislative process to actually push things forward towards becoming law.

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Comments

Displaying 1-30 of 138 total comments.

  • Jax26 02/11/2011 8:54am

    Pay for it or don’t even bother. I’m not saying that I believe that it should be paid for b/c I understand the premise of why it shouldn’t be but it’s just a waste of time to put forward something that will 100% end in defeat. There is no way that this makes it through the House let alone the Senate without being paid for.

    If you really want it to pass then pay for it and make Republicans take a stand on the topic instead of the deficit. Otherwise it’s just the same recycled arguments

  • Iamamerican33 02/11/2011 9:22am

    Statistics are that UI simulates the economy at a rate of $1.61+ for each dollar spent. This will be spent immediately for it IS an immediate need! To those of you who think we do not want jobs… you have no clue how wrong your thinking is or what the majority of the 99ers are going through. We are going hungry, losing the roofs over our heads, needing medical help and unable to even afford a doctor’s visit. Simply buying over-the-counter medicines are even above what some of us can afford. We want jobs! We want out lives back! We want America to be strong and succesful again! We want to produce as we once did, but we need the support of our country to survive this fall just as OUR COUNTRY has helped poeple in OTHER countries, to survive when they were in such dire need. We are Americans for God’s sake!!! We are human beings who have fallen and we are asking for our fellow human beings to help us revive our dream. OUR AMERICAN DREAM. This is NOT too much to ask. I thank you Rep LEE!

  • Comm_reply
    badams82 02/11/2011 9:55am

    I’m with you 100%. Many, out there think that we are just waiting for a hand out and have no clue that it takes more than minimum wage to support a mortgage and kids. They should be happy to be employed and count their blessings. Once, they see how many 99er’s are truly out there maybe they will get a crude awakening. God bless Rep. Lee at least someone is fighting for the 99er’s!!!

  • fakk2 02/11/2011 12:33pm

    When the line, “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” is mentioned by both sides in debates over UI, it doesn’t mean anyone, working or not, has a right to a house, or food, or health care or anything except a right to life, a right to liberty (being truly free, i.e. small government), or a PURSUIT of happiness. I’m not saying it should or shouldn’t be paid for, but how can those on UI afford $30 for internet when they can’t afford $30 for OTC drugs, or to put $30 more towards a mortgage. It is near impossible to afford kids and a home on minimum wage (if it’s possible at all), but does that mean when you’re on UI you live like you always have? NO, it means you sacrifice, no cable/satellite, no internet, no cell phones, no eating out, etc. It’s not comforting, but it does extend a check from the government. When we have 113 weeks of unemployment, will we then hear calls for 125 weeks? Where does it end?

  • Comm_reply
    girlnextdoor 02/11/2011 2:34pm

    @fakk2 it should end once the unemployment rate is at normal again…you are talking about human beings here…I’ve never seen this much whining when it comes to people on WELFARE…women having baby after baby, living in better houses in the suburbs w/section 8 vouchers(with their boyfriends) then some people that have to work, free child care, WIC and food stamps…. people like you kill me….but only a reality check with make people like you open their eyes because please believe the longer this economy goes down the drain the better chance you will loose your job as well…no demand no supply!

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 02/11/2011 3:41pm

    @Girlnextdoor,

    Personally, I don’t think it’ll be normal for a long long time or until we change the taxes and regulations that increase the cost of business. With so many unemployed workers, businesses have pushed more and more responsibility onto fewer people with no increase in pay because they know those people will do it so they don’t lose their jobs. So, what incentive do businesses have to hire more when they can have higher productivity with less people?

    Also, if those close to 99 weeks of unemployment have internet, cell phones, home phones, 2 cars, and/or cable/satellite, then why should the federal government keep paying for them to have those things?

    *Side note, I do agree, we shouldn’t support welfare either. We should stop doing 90% of what we are doing, and let the states decide who gets UI, or SSI, or welfare, or anything really. Wouldn’t it make more sense?

  • Comm_reply
    OMGuAll 02/11/2011 5:16pm

    Everyone I know complains about Welfare. Missouri just passed a law for drug testing on welfare recipients. That should free up a HUGE amount of money to
    put towards jobs programs. If every state were to do the same it would free up a ton of money.

    Leaving a store the other night a girl approached me, talking on a cell phone, she managed to force a
    few insincere tears, then gave a sob story about how she needed tampons. If I would just go to sweetbay supermarket with her and buy as little
    as $25 or $30 worth of food she would put it on her food stamps. I gave her
    $1.07 and pointed to the Dollar Store. I watched her hit up 3 other people before I drove up to her and said, " You are committing fraud and will go to prison".

    Obviously you are not hanging around conservatives, because we are whining about the people that think it is their God given right to have entitlements.

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 02/11/2011 6:19pm

    Go Missouri! Besides the other drugs, as long as Marijuana is illegal, anyone who gets welfare, SSI, UI, farming subsidies, or ANY government handouts should be drug tested and be made to pass before they get a dime, and even then it should be continual testing for each check. After all, if they’re on the taxpayer’s dime, they should have to prove to the taxpayer they’re not breaking the law.

    I’d even go so far as to say if they fail a drug test more than once for the same program, then they should be banned from said program. Now, if they were to make marijuana legal, then it could be excluded from testing just like alcohol would be excluded.

  • Comm_reply
    trk387t 02/11/2011 8:51pm

    Your an idiot seriously… hey dumb nuts, THEY ARE TAX PAYERS ALSO! So its not ok to help the poor, but your Mr. Tax payer don’t mind spending your money on helping OTHER countries poor? OTHER countries problems? place a TRILLION dollars on the national deficit? thats cool right!

    S C U M B A G

    YOur the kinda of PRICK that their child asks them for something and you are fucking RICH and you turn to your 9 YEAR OLD child and say " you want that, get a job "! YOU know there is a place for people like you…

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 02/12/2011 3:21am

    You’re right, there is a place for people like me: A comfy home that’s not in danger of being forclosed on, with enough food I don’t have to wonder what I’ll eat every day, two cars for me and my girl to do as we please, a dog that we adore, affordable health care through my employer, and any amenities we see fit to purchase. That’s a very nice place for people like me, as you had said. ;P

  • Comm_reply
    trk387t 02/13/2011 11:26am

    Dudes, you just DESCRIBED the PAST life of EVERY 99er out there, and guess what? THEY ARE HOMELESS NOW… We are not talking about people that squandered money, they saved, they had retirement plans! they were SECURE! look at them now… YOU could be next, your cushy life in a blink of an eye could turn into you looking for a relative to stay with AFTER you sold all your worldly goods. These 99’ers did not become 99’ers over night, it was a transitional period. FIRST the sold everything to survive, when they had nothing left to sell, thats when the real fun began. YOU shouldn’t be so quick to judge them or me, God has a way of making people LIVE their words and actions…

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 02/14/2011 7:39pm

    If they were secure in their savings, where did their money go? Did they have it in low-risk accounts? They evidently weren’t planning on taking a dive in risky assets, which is why they’re risky after all. Here’s a good read, not the best, but a good one to show how a minimum wage worker can have a nestegg: http://www.hoover.org/publications/policy-review/article/7139

  • Comm_reply
    OMGuAll 02/11/2011 4:58pm

    You are correct. 99 weeks to 113 to 125 to 150 and on and on. I no longer have my career, but took an hourly job when I could have continued on unemployment. I read the blogs with many of the 99er’s crying about how over qualified they were for these jobs. Well….guess what? After 3 years they are no longer qualified for squat!(with the exception of the their new lobbing skills… )

    The unemployed are probably eating better than I am, because I see them checking out of the supermarkets with carts filled while swiping the red/white & blue food stamp card. Looks just like a credit card. They qualify for medicaid while I am
    uninsured, they qualify for welfare and many other government programs.

    China OWNS us…. we are headed for inflation, but we should borrow more money
    for one more extended entitlement?

  • Comm_reply
    ls 02/11/2011 5:32pm

    Being on unemployment doesn’t qualify you for medicaid – you have to make less than $400 a month for a family of 6 to qualify for family medicaid in Missouri, although children can qualify with more income, adults won’t. Jumping through the hoops to get food stamps only to be told that you make $.75 cents too much to qualify for any help, or trying to stretch $63 a month to feed a family because you are part of a couple who both have minimum wage jobs is no picnic either. Ifully agree that those on unemployment, or reduced income for any reason, should cut expense and take whatever they can to get by and keep looking in the mean time. However, there are time when that just doesn’t happen. Those of you who haven’t had to experience what you seem to think is easy should give up your checkbooks and credit cards and try it for awhile!

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 02/11/2011 6:38pm

    It comes down to this: Do we, Americans, have an unalienable right to have our home paid for, or have food on our table, or have a car, or education, or a well paying job, just to mention a few things. No, we don’t.

  • Comm_reply
    dwcstmdznr 02/15/2011 5:56am

    Something you need to take into account is that now days internet access is a necessity. Have you looked at the Employment section of a news paper lately? They are practically non existent. I live in Baltimore and where the employment sectio in the sunday paper used to be 2 full fat sections, now it’s only one or two pages in a section with other ads. You really do need the internet to look for a job. Plus people with school age kids need it so their kids can do their school work. Unemployed people have sacrificed greatly, by losing their way of life, their feeling useful, feeling like they are contributing. It’s rough out their and the older you are the worse it is, no one wants to pay and experienced person what they are worth.

  • Comm_reply
    dwcstmdznr 02/15/2011 5:56am

    I am a seamstress by profession, I have made everything from kids cloths and toys to wedding gowns and formal attire to draperies and accessories, I can redo the interior of a car or a boat then make an awning for your house or a party tent for your back yard. Over 30 years experience and do you know what they are paying someone like me now? Minimum wage. WHen I first entered the job market you could get a job in a sewing factory when minimum wage was 3 or 4 bucks an hour, but we had a piece rate where you could actually make a much higher rate, that’s gone now along with all the jobs Do you realize most of your clothing is made in Viet Nam, Thailand, china. Our industries need to come back home, we need to make this happen so that the jobs are here for OUR citizens. In the maentime we need to help the unemployed, to keep food n the table for their kids, shelter, you know those things we all need to survive.

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 02/15/2011 1:32pm

    Dwcstmdznr, I’m curious about something. Since you didn’t save for hard times over the last 30 years when time was good, or if you did you didn’t manage it well, not counting how you ever planned to retire, will charging businesses more taxes to pay for employees they no longer have bring back the jobs?

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to instead create a program that put the unemployed to work for minimum wage building infrastructure in our communities, while also providing food and housing assistance? The WPA program of the 30’s and 40’s did just that. Instead of paying for people to submit an application once every 4 weeks, shouldn’t we put them to work doing something that is greatly needed to help sustain our communities? We could take the entire defense budget and pay for 16 million unemployed to work for 3 years @ 7.25/hr. Or we could limit it to 6 million unemployed for 27 weeks or longer and provide food and housing assistance w/ min wage also. Wouldn’t this be preferable?

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 02/15/2011 1:20pm

    I understand you need internet, but that doesn’t mean you need to pay for it. Instead of spending $30+/mo in internet bills, why not spend that on food or gas or a mortgage and use the free internet provided for in many local libraries?

    As far as the children are concerned, I’m sure they could use the computers at the library too (isn’t that one of the best places for schoolwork?) or in their schools, if they have them. Wouldn’t it be better to buy $30+ more food than pay for internet for the children?

  • CANDY2011 02/11/2011 2:57pm

    Christian Louboutin Bottes Christian Louboutin Bottes
    Christian Louboutin D’orsay Christian Louboutin D’orsay
    Christian Louboutin Mary Janes Christian Louboutin Mary Janes
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  • trk387t 02/11/2011 6:08pm

    trk387 YT Advocate for the 99’ers and Unemployed…

    1.4 million that many huh? and oh I can actually fart the star spangle banner out my bung hole and remove my eye and place it on my forehead (oh I actually can do that) lol. TRY 6 + MILLION 99’ers and that number grows by THOUSANDS every day. Its one thing for these damn parasites (yes they are) to say they won’t fund bills to help and aid AMERICANS, its quite another to LIE also. Well its just like a said, " what is the definition of a Republican "? ANSWER: A sociopath. ABSENT without conscience, pathological liars, hospitable only when you can do something for them, and when you can’t YOU ARE NOTHING. STOP going after the puppets and go after the REAL puppet master of the Republican party, Mitch McConnell. HE is the REASON there is NO tier V period (because) his lie, " what does it cost and how are we gonna pay for it " BS! But for his friends UNPAID for lets throw a TRILL on the barbie what the hell! That is 880 BILLION more!

  • trk387t 02/11/2011 6:17pm

    cont – from the measly 120 B to fund unemployment extensions for ALL unemployed. AND for you critics of the unemployed, he also pissed on you as well with S3816 the bill that would STOP american companies to outsource YOUR JOBS! and you WAIT you heartless pricks, YOUR REPUBLICAN PRIZE is in route, it will come in the form an email, " sorry your job has been fazed out " OR " we have reduced your salary to 4.00 HR! since there is NO more MINIMUM WAGE! Lets see now, oh, no more abortions! so women will be in shady corners doing it illegally. Well one good thing they will be better off than the poor women of the 40’s and 50’s. Overturn roe – vs – wade? WHO THE FUCK DO THESE PEOPLE THINK THEY ARE? REALLY? AND who the hell gave them so much power over WE THE PEOPLE? oh thats rights right YOUR DUMB ASS DID.

    ENJOY your REWARDS… :(

    to those that want to KNOW the TRUTH? and your not timid and passive, and your tired of taking it in the ass, watch: youtube.com/user/TRK387?feature=mhum

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 02/11/2011 6:46pm

    Just curious, and I’m sure this comment may be removed eventually, but are you mentally stable?

  • Comm_reply
    trk387t 02/11/2011 6:53pm

    Ironically yes, VERY stable, VERY sane, and EXTREMELY grounded. Thank you for playing…

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 02/11/2011 7:06pm

    asking a question is playing? weird. I thought it was just a question.

  • Comm_reply
    trk387t 02/11/2011 7:11pm

    you are one of these conservative motherfuckers aren’t you? ASS so tight you can’t even take a shit properly LOL. It was a joke… get it, " thank you for playing our game " JEESH… LIGHTEN UP, GO SMOKE SOME WEED.

    Disclaimer: I do not do drugs…

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 02/12/2011 3:57am

    Yeah, I’m someone who believes we should limit the federal government to what’s in the constitution, have a republic (rule of law) instead of a democracy (mob rule), and return to states’ rights. Don’t misunderstand, I do believe in a central power base to rule the government, but that central power base should be the good will of the people, not the government itself. I think people should be self-sufficient and not expect anyone else to help them out in any way. After all, life, even when things are good, is hard.

  • Comm_reply
    trk387t 02/11/2011 8:41pm

    let us NOT forget that STATISTICALLY most 99’ers are 44 years old, professionals, who made 100K + a year, had homes, cars, TWO CARS! wanted for nothing, they have NOT only been reduced to POVERTY, they have also been SHUNNED by the employment world, (A) they are two old, and (B) they have been out of work to long. These people are not your typical run of the mill get fired sit on UI people! They were doctors, lawyers, teachers, cops, fireman, social workers, surgeons, nurses, for GOD sakes… Now these CAREER driven people simply forgot about the families, their children, and opted to be homeless, lose everything because they don’t want to WORK! and you ask me if I am crazy? If that is not calling the kettle black I have NO idea what is.

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 02/12/2011 3:58am

    “you ask me if I am crazy” —No, I asked if you were mentally stable, not crazy.

  • Comm_reply
    trk387t 02/13/2011 11:29am

    is there a difference? LOL.

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