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A Bill for the 99ers (and Other Exhaustees)

August 5, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

As announced last night on the Ed Schultz show, Sen. Debbie Ann Stabenow [D, MI] has introduced legislation that would provide additional weeks of unemployment benefits payments for people who have reached the end of what is currently available to them in their state. The bill, which she’s calling it the Americans Want to Work Act, would also extend and strengthen tax credits for employers that hire people who have been out of work for some time.

The bill had 9 original co-sponsors as it was introduced, including the three most powerful Democrats in the Senate — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV], Democratic Whip Dick Durbin [D, IL] and Democratic Caucus Vice-Chair Chuck Schumer [D, NY].

This is, obviously, good news for the millions of unemployed Americans who have exhausted all of the unemployment benefits available to them and to those who may exhaust their benefits in the future without having found work. And it’s not a second too soon. With people like Tim Geithner predicting that the unemployment rate will go up again before it goes down, it’s clear that jobs are becoming harder to find at the same time that people who lost their jobs in the scramble following the 2008 financial meltdown are reaching the end of their lifeline.

Noticeably missing from the bill is any kind of a plan to offset the deficit impact of the additional weeks of unemployment benefits and the business hiring incentives. As I noted Monday, support in Congress for extending unemployment insurance benefits without offsetting the costs has progressively weakened over the past couple years. The most recent round of extensions took more than a month for the Senate to pass and pushed them to what seemed like their absolute limit for unpaid-for extensions. Stabenow’s bill is different — it would add additional weeks, not extend the filing deadline for the existing tiers — but the same dynamics would almost certainly apply. I don’t know how this passes without a revenue plan.

Here’s the summary from Stabenow’s office (as the official legislative text has not yet been made available, this is about all we know):

Tier 5 – Unemployment Insurance

  • What it Does: Provides 20 weeks of additional unemployment insurance for states with 7.5% or higher unemployment. This tier will benefit the people who have exhausted all of their benefits.
  • Retroactive Eligibility: Would apply retroactively to everyone who has exhausted all of their previous tiers in recent months. However, benefits would not be paid retroactively. (Example – If you exhausted your benefits 3 months ago, you would be eligible to begin your Tier 5 at the date of enactment. You would not, however, be paid out for the 3 months in which you did not receive benefits. If you are going to exhaust your benefits in 2 weeks, you will move right onto Tier 5 and receive your 20 weeks).
  • Requirements: People who are unemployed still need to meet current UI law requirements such as job searches.

One Year Extension of the HIRE Act Payroll Tax Exemption & Incentives for Businesses to Hire the Hardest Hit Americans

  • HIRE Act Background: The HIRE Act, signed into law earlier this year, provides two new tax incentives for employers to hire unemployed workers. Under the HIRE Act, businesses that hire Americans who have been out of work for at least 60 days are exempt from paying their 6.2 percent share of Social Security payroll taxes for all new hires up to the FICA wage cap of $106,800. To promote long-term employment, the HIRE Act also provides an additional $1,000 general business tax credit for each worker retained for at least one year.
  • Americans Want to Work Act Provisions: The bill includes two key provisions that apply to all states:

    •  Extends the successful HIRE Act Payroll Tax Exemption for one year, through the end of 2011.
    • Doubles the general business tax credit, from $1,000 to $2,000, for businesses that hire (and retain for 52 weeks) someone who has exhausted all unemployment benefits. This is applicable to anyone who has exhausted all unemployment benefits or that is eligible for Tier 5. This would be effective at the date of enactment.
  • Evidence the HIRE Act Payroll Tax Exemption is Working: Recent reports from the Treasury Department show that from February to June of 2010, businesses hired approximately 5.6 million new workers who had been unemployed for eight weeks or more.  Businesses have already received potential tax savings of $10.4 billion ($6.2 billion in payroll tax reductions, $4.2 billion in tax credits) from the HIRE Act Payroll Tax Exemption.
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Displaying 1-30 of 58 total comments.

  • jpocalips1 08/05/2010 7:19am

    Thank you Senator Stabenow, I was wondering how long it was going to take for someone to finally look at the big picture. To think that this problem is going to just go away is insane. I’m all for helping my fellow man, but we really need to address our own country first, work on cleaning up our own backyard, then by all means help those in need. America is without, a doubt the greatest country in the world, I pray that continues, I fear if we as a nation, don’t start getting more involved in, the issues that impact our lives, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

  • Comm_reply
    frukit 08/05/2010 1:04pm

    Leave It To The Democrats To Get Something Done For The Working Man/Woman.The Workers Of This Country, Are What Makes This Country Great.

  • PolicyOgre 08/05/2010 7:44am

    this will never pass becasue some republican a-holes who never complained about the budget deffictic from 2000-2008 have now decided to block any and all deficit spending. Senator Stabenow’s attempt is well placed but honestly stands no chance of success

  • Comm_reply
    Chris51 08/05/2010 9:56am

    Months of lack of concern on half of the Senator’s part, is discouraged, but this update should give millions some hope. This bill puts the discussion back on the table, and it will make congress take their stand. They either care about the middle class and financially poor, or they’re not. They either want the economy to start improving or they don’t.
    This bill gives long term unemployment 20 weeks, and incentives for employers who can hire them. It will put 99ers at the front of the line where they need to be in order to have a chance to get hired. Also, it gives the states One Stop Centers a $trong tool to help the long term unemployed clients, who they have given up on and left on the statistics criteria us “not job placed”.
    All the unemployed need to support each other with this bill, and contact their representatives. They can’t wait until after August recess, because it will be too late.
    You can watch interview on

  • J9007 08/05/2010 8:34am

    In Pennsylvania,
    Tier 1 is 20 weeks
    Tier 2 is 14 weeks
    Tier 3 is 13 weeks
    Tier 4 is 6 weeks
    53 weeks not 99 and expires 11/27/2010

    I am grateful to have unemployment insurance but it seems the weeks in each tier have been adjusted with the new unemployment extension.

  • Comm_reply
    Mapgrouch 08/07/2010 2:31am

    Does your state not give state unemployment? Most people get 26 weeks normal unemployment, then 53 weeks of tiers, then 20 weeks of “state extended” which all total 99. Hence the term 99ers. Does your state just jump straight to tier 1 with no 26 week state unemployment to start with?

  • Comm_reply
    bcarney 08/10/2010 8:15am

    You are forgetting the initial 26 weeks and EB, which bring it to the 99weeks. Also, not everyone collects 99 weeks depending on their benefit amount. This is mentioned in the letter that informs you of a new extension on how it is calculated. It will say something to the order of “You are entitled to the additional 12 weeks of this extension or 50% of your initial claim, whichever is the least.” So if your initial claim was for $11,000 and your bi-weekly pay is for $1,100 you will receive have of $11,000 which is $5,500. This $5,500 will be divided by the benefit amount of $1,100. This means you will receive 5 checks multiplied by 2 because it is bi-weekly meaning the recipient acutally gets 10 weeks instead of 12. Now, this occurs for every extension meaning that a person will probably be anywhere from 10-12 weeks shy of the 99 weeks. However, they are still consider 99ers because of the timeline such as becoming unemployed in 2008, etc. Does this make sense?

  • kaputter 08/05/2010 9:20am

    I find the title of this bill sadly comedic. How about
    “Congress wants Tax Payers To Continue to Pay Nontaxpayers NOT to work Because we Need Their Votes”
    She represents Michigan—-that says it all.
    The tax paying working people will not keep paying people to sit around.
    THERE ARE JOBS OUT THERE—-maybe it won’t be the same job. I know many people who are finding jobs AND getting off the govt cheese. Ask MO to cut back on her vacations…Why didnt she vacation in the US to STIMULATE the economy? Thousands $$ for Spain. “Let Them Eat Cake”

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 08/05/2010 10:00am

    There are less private sector jobs now the there were 12 years ago! there are over 4 million less jobs then there were just 5 years ago, The US has to create 150,000 jobs a month just to keep up with birth rates and legal immigration. We have been loosing 500 thousandish jobs a month for over 2 years!

    So there are now 13 million more people that need jobs then needed jobs just 5 years ago and there are 4 million less jobs available then there were 5 years ago, were do you expect people to work?

    It is simple math, You can not fit 10 cars into a two car garage. We have a serious problem and there is not a solution in site, this is freaking scary.
  • Abaratarrr 08/05/2010 9:27am

    so our call to action now is to have pelosi produce companion legislation to s3706 and allow for a vote next week, we can not let her do what she did in 2008 and not allow a vote until after the election.

    in 2008 she actually allowed for a vote before the election but waited until the senate was no longer in session so that they could not vote until after the election.

    Lets blow that chicky’s phone up; District Office – 90 7th Street – Suite 2-800 – San Francisco, CA 94103 – (415) 556-4862 -
    Washington, D.C. Office – 235 Cannon HOB – Washington, DC 20515 – (202) 225-4965

    If she does not allow for a vote next week it proves that this was just a political ploy to gain votes and that they intend to force this to drag out until November.

    Anyone want to bet that they are just playing games so that people won’t bug them on there 4+ week paid vacation.

    chances of pelosi allowing a companion bill of this legislation to be voted on are slim to none, they are playing games with us.

  • Abaratarrr 08/05/2010 9:45am

    according to the very nice girl that answers pelosi’s phone they are aware that the last extension did not help the people that have extended all of their ties and she is not aware a bill in the house that adds more weeks. I told her about the senate bill then left a message asking that she introduce a companion bill for 3706 and allow for a vote during next weeks special session.

    Please people do the same she needs to know that we know that the ball is in
    her court at this point in time.

    We can not let them turn this into a game of gotcha and talking points that lasts until after the November elections. 4213 passed the senate march 10 and then sat on pelosi’s desk for over 2 months we can not let that happen again, the need to vote on companion legislation next week, It is guaranteed to pass the house is she will allow a vote.

    please leave her a message at
    (415) 556-4862 & (202) 225-4965.
    Please be nice we want them to want to help us

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 08/05/2010 9:47am

    *according to the very nice girl that answers pelosi’s phone they are aware that the last extension did not help the people that have gone through all of their ties

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 08/05/2010 10:17am

    *tiers in ties

    I’m so excited I can’t type.
  • Comm_reply
    frukit 08/05/2010 1:01pm

    Does Anyone In Our Government Know That We Need: Roads Repaired, Bridges Repaired, A New Alternative Energy System Built, Exsisting Power Plants Repaired, New Nuclear Power Plants Built, Water Treatment Plants Built And / Or Upgraded.We Need Billions of Tax Dollars Spent On INFRASTRUCTURE Of These United States.Do You Think That It Would Be Hard, For Our Elected Officials To Take The Necessary Steps, To Employ AMERICANS To WORK On OUR OWN COUNTRY.We Do Have To Live Here,You Know!!-BILLIONS FOR THE WAR MACHINE, NO MONEY FOR THE HOME TEAM ?-WTF

  • Abaratarrr 08/05/2010 12:07pm

    Ok, I;m an idiot I did not know the senate was still in session i thought they had already left for the month, if we pester the hell out of Harry maybe he will allow for a vote this week

    Reids numbers

    775-882-REID (7343)

    please be nice we want them to want to help us.

  • Comm_reply
    frukit 08/05/2010 1:01pm

    Leave it To A Democrat, To Get Something Done For The Working Man/Women.The Working Man Made This Country Great.

  • eavina30 08/06/2010 6:41am
    let your voice be heard, sign this petition

  • saturnsc2 08/06/2010 10:01am

    first of all unless they also extend the current benefits past november this bill is useless. the senate is out until september, so this bill would also have to include an extension of current benefits if it’s to allow 20 extra weeks of unemployment. it will be an uphill battle like before though as it’s not going to be paid for so the GOP will try to block it because they always want it paid for first. i wonder if those 2 republicans will join the democrats to pass it like before. if not then what? i have 10 more weeks now & i would run out just in time for this new bill if i’m still not working, hopefully it iwll go through, but i say it’s a longshot….. thoughts???

  • wes00 08/06/2010 11:52am

    well lets keep the faith with this one guys..I am praying!

  • Chris51 08/06/2010 2:59pm

    Interview with their reason this bill will be put off until after August recess

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 08/06/2010 3:52pm

    good job ed, nice to see him point out that they could call for a vote if they wanted to, was sad to here they won’t to do it because they would have to work for a another week.

    So basically they are not going to pass it now because it would be “work” We are struggling to find work and the people in the senate are doing everything they can to get out of work.

    Part that pisses me off is they are going to pass this as “emergency Legislation” if it was an emergency to them they would not put it off over a month.

    They just brought up this bill two days ago so people wouldn’t through rocks at them while they are on vacation for the next month.

    If they were serious about passing it they would have started the procedures today or yesterday. they are just playing games trying to manipulate voters.

  • Comm_reply
    mouseissue 08/08/2010 8:27am

    In case anyone is interested, this video shows an Allstate commercial then NOTHING!

    I’m not surprised though… MSNBC is overtly in the pockets of Progressive politicians.

    This would NOT be the first time MSNBC scrubbed something off their site because it might make one or more progressives look bad.

  • Comm_reply
    Chris51 08/09/2010 9:10pm
    Link Reply
    + -1

    There must be something wrong with your connection. I just tried it, and I was able to watch the interview Ed Shultz did with Sheldon Whitehouse.

    I don’t think this interview has anything to do with progressive politicians. Ed Shults ask Sheldon Whitehouse why don’t they postpone the August recess, and help the 99ers.

    After the commercial there is a few seconds of nothing, before interview starts up.

  • Comm_reply
    Chris51 08/09/2010 9:10pm
    Link Reply
    + -1

    There must be something wrong with your connection. I just tried it, and I was able to watch the interview Ed Shultz did with Sheldon Whitehouse.

    I don’t think this interview has anything to do with progressive politicians. Ed Shults ask Sheldon Whitehouse why don’t they postpone the August recess, and help the 99ers.

    After the commercial there is a few seconds of nothing, before interview starts up.

  • Comm_reply
    Chris51 08/09/2010 9:11pm
    Link Reply
    + -1

    There must be something wrong with your connection. I just linked up and had no trouble watching the interview Ed Shultz does with Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

    I don’t think this interview has anything to do with progressive politicians. Ed Shults ask Sheldon Whitehouse why don’t they postpone the August recess, and help the 99ers.

  • sruthj217 08/06/2010 3:41pm
    Link Reply
    + -1

    I wouldn’t say this spells certain doom for the unemployed, but it doesn’t look good.

  • saturnsc2 08/06/2010 4:26pm

    does anybody here know if those 2 republican senators would vote with the democrats to pass this bill? if not it will be the same old horse manure. the democrats say it’s emergency spending & the republicans say it whould be paid for in advance with stimulus funds. this is all getting very old isn’t it?

  • saturnsc2 08/06/2010 4:36pm

    this part of the new bill’s proposal doesn’t make sense to me:

    “Stabenow’s bill is different — it would add additional weeks, not extend the filing deadline for the existing tiers”

    well then how would it offer 20 weeks? even if it passed right now, at the time of this posting untill november which is the current deadline it would’nt be a full 20 weeks, & it won’t pass now! so we’re also talking about another new extension along with it. just another hurdle to get over…

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 08/06/2010 6:27pm

    no the recent bills that were passed extended the deadlines for the past extensions that had expired, chances are this bill will be wrote with an expiration date of around December of 2011.
    If they then do not extend the past extension it will mean that newly unemployed will be allowed a total of 46 weeks and all of the unemployed will then be on the same page,, all future extensions would then apply to all unemployed regardless of how long they have been uneployed.

  • saturnsc2 08/06/2010 5:12pm

    i see that the senate returns sept 13th. my current eb runs out the end of october, so if i don’t have a job by then it will be sweating time for me. i have a job possibility brewing though & if it works out i will be hired just before the shit hits the fan. i’ll keep my fingers crossed, but in the meantime, if that falls through 20 more weeks sounds awesome, but it wll be another long uphill battle..

    i must say that being on unemployment really sucks though. life has really been difficult to say the least. i got a first hand look on how people who have no jobs are treated. we’re just more mouths to feed, nothing more. i really hope that all the bastards who say we just love government money & are lazy join us on the unemoloyment lines. i really do…

    life’s anything but easy waking up every day wondering what’s going to happen when the unemployment runs out. it’s been suggested to me that i’m “on vacation” some vacation being unhappy & depressed….

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