It's no coincidence that over the past few years we've experienced the largest and most sustained activations of grassroots political protest that this country has seen in decades. We’re beginning to rebel against a political system that tries to placate us while the government and corporations collude to secure extraordinary powers for themselves.Read Full Article Comments (5)
We know that corporations and special interests that can afford $30,000 - $50,000 per month "access lobbyists" are getting their say in front of the supercommittee. According to Politico, lobbyists are receiving special readouts from closed-door supercommittee meetings and then scheduling one-on-ones with supercommittee members so their clients can protect their interests.Read Full Article Comments (31)
The American Jobs Act contains a provision that would be extremely stimulative in terms of GDP expansion and jobs growth while also providing direct relief to the workers who have been hardest hit by the recession. Yet in discussions over which parts of the bill to keep for inclusion in a smaller, bipartisan package after the American Jobs Act is officially killed, that provision doesn't seem to be popular.Read Full Article Comments (26)
The Senate is currently making progress on bipartisan legislation designed to shrink the U.S. trade deficit with China and restore up to 2.8 million domestic manufacturing positions. Yesterday, a majority of both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the China trade bill, a.k.a. the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act, and they're expected to pass it by the end of the week. But that will be the end of the line for the bill.Read Full Article Comments (14)
Last week I wrote about how the deficit supercommittee has so far held the majority of its meetings in complete secrecy. Well, as it turns out, that's not exactly true. According to Politico, the committee members have choosen a select group of citizens to give special access to their private meetings to. You and I just happen to not be on the list.Read Full Article Comments (3)
The American Jobs Act doesn't propose an extension for 99ers, the millions of people who have been out of work so long that they are no longer eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. But it does include several provisions that are designed to help them in other ways.Read Full Article Comments (28)
For the past few years on OpenCongress, the hottest issue by far has been unemployment, specifically, keeping extended unemployment insurance benefits from lapsing while the jobless rate remains high. The current extended unemployment benefits program, which lasts up to 99 weeks in states with unemployment rates above 8.5%, has been reauthorized five times and its current authorization is scheduled to expire at the end of December. President Obama is expected to propose another reauthorization in his big jobs speech tonight, but it's not clear that Congress is going to be willing to extend them once again.Read Full Article Comments (11)
Richard Cohen at Politico has a piece this morning on what is probably the most important trend in Congress right now. According to the article, Republicans, from the leadership down, are warming up to the idea of raising revenue through increasing corporate tax rates and closing loopholes. "The targeting of long-protected tax breaks — for ethanol, research and development, manufacturing and foreign company income — is a sign that key House Republicans are ready to break with the orthodoxy of past tax debates while ditching special interests that have long held sway in tax reform discussions," Cohen writes. So what does it mean for the hottest issue among users of OpenCongress -- extending unemployment insurance for the very-long-term unemployed who have exhausted all available benefits without finding new work?Read Full Article Comments (6)
Even as the economy slowly recovers and new jobs are created, millions of the hardest hit unemployed continue to be left behind. In April, the number of unemployed workers who have been without a job for more than two years increased by 21,000 to 14.5% of all unemployed. As Lauren Victoria Burke reported recently following a meeting between Barack Obama and the Congressional Black Caucus, the very-long-term unemployed are being shut out of the conversation because their growing numbers contradict the economic picture the President is trying to paint:Read Full Article Comments (6)
One of the final acts of the last session of Congress was passing legislation to keep extended unemployment insurance benefits for the long-term unemployed available into 2012. Their reason for doing so was, of course, to ensure that the hardest-hit victims of the '08 economic crisis would have some form of financial support while the jobs market remains weak. Well, the jobs market is still weak, but Republicans in the House are moving to scale back the extended unemployment insurance benefits with a new bill they are calling the "Jobs, Opportunity, Benefits, and Services Act of 2011," or the "JOBS Act."Read Full Article Comments (76)
Reps. Barbara Lee [D, CA-9] and Bobby Scott [D, VA-3] -- the long-term unemployed's lead advocates in Congress -- managed to sit down with the Republican House leadership this morning to talk about their bill, H.R.589, to extend unemployment benefits for people who have been out of work for two years or longer. Just getting a meeting with the Republicans who control the legislative flow in the House is a big step forward for Lee and Scott. But, unfortunately, it does not sound like a lot of progress was made during the discussion.Read Full Article Comments (14)
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In an exchange during their meeting last Wednesday with the President, CBC Chair Emanuel Cleaver called the cost of the 99ers bill (H.R. 589 sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee of California) “prohibitive.”
In Rep. Cleaver’s words: “It was what I expected because my staff had done a lot of research on it. And we found that the cost of that program would be between $14 and 20 billion dollars which is cost prohibitive.
Roll Call has a good piece today on the "glacial" pace of the 112th Congress so far and the fact that it's going to get even slower from here on out. The problem, of course, is that neither the Republicans who control the House or the Democrats who control the Senate are working with an eye towards the other chamber. Particularly in the House, the legislative docket is being used more as a political platform than a means to make laws and solve the problems facing the nation.
"Where are the jobs?" is, of course, the relevant question here. So far this year we've seen votes on divisive program cuts, stopgap bills to patch the budget, extending the government's spying powers, and somecheap fluff, but there's been no honest work on legislation addressing the jobs crisis that could pass both chambers and actually help people. Below is a list of the bills that have been signed into law so far this year. We're facing a deeper and longer lasting jobs crisis than anything we've seen since the Great Depression, but you wouldn't know it looking at the output of the federal legislature:Read Full Article Comments (4)
Reps. Barbara Lee [D, CA-9] and Bobby Scott [D, VA-3] have been hustling on the Hill to help the long-term unemployed. Since they introduced their bill to extend unemployment insurance to the approximately 3.9 million people who have been out of work for more than two years and have exhausted their benefits -- so-called "99ers" -- they have almost doubled their list of co-sponsors. And now they've secured a meeting with the Republican House leadership to discuss ways that the bill could be offset and, presumably, moved ahead in the legislative process.Read Full Article Comments (51)
The Nation's Chris Hayes offers a good explanation for why most members of Congress don't seem particularly concerned abut the high rates of unemployment we've been seeing and will probably continue to see for several years:
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This disconnect between the jobs crisis in the country and the blithe dismissal thereof in Washington is the most incomprehensible aspect of the political moment. But I think there are two numbers that go a long way toward explaining it.