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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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Displaying 1-30 of 43 total comments.

  • Adambomb 11/29/2010 8:44pm

    I hope that they understand we dont want to have to depend on the government to take care of us, but right now theres no other options. Where i live has the highest unemployment in the nation. Not to mention the economy cant take a hit like this well be even worse off then before.

  • Jess01869 11/29/2010 9:18pm

    It is going to be a long hard day and if this doesn’t pass…I can’t even imagine…

  • Jess01869 11/29/2010 9:18pm

    It is going to be a long hard day and if this doesn’t pass…I can’t even imagine…

  • Jess01869 11/29/2010 9:18pm

    It is going to be a long hard day and if this doesn’t pass…I can’t even imagine…

  • wmenges 11/29/2010 9:20pm

    I hope these people in Washington look back at who they are working for. My unemployment was exhausted in September, my wife’s expires today. I have been filling out apps and going to interview for months and now I have to try and do this with no gas in my car, and possibly no place to live. We desperately need the extension, and my famiy is not the only ones. President Obama has spoke several times in our area. We need help or more jobs not now….we needed them 3 months ago.

  • Comm_reply
    Nodlee87 11/30/2010 4:56am

    I lost my benefits in May. I now feed my family from the food bank and church donations. Go to the library to get on the internet to look for any and all free networking events that are out there hoping to make a connection somewhere for work. And yes my biggest challenge is keeping the gas in my car so that I can be out there looking.

    So all of you that say the unemployed are just lazy, go six months without any income and you would be right here with us asking for some help!!

  • Comm_reply
    needwork7 11/30/2010 6:51pm

    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?

  • joeroseGARSEEYA 11/29/2010 10:24pm

    Simple as this…. DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN what does that have to do with having a heart? While they are at home cozy and warm with food in the fridge( probably take out) along with a nice great big christmas tree and tons of gifts; Most unemployed people are without. I have been applying for jobs already going on 5 months. Im still unemployed with no typeof income at all! I am willing to except an $8.00 an hr job and cannot even get one… Im starting to think USA= Unemployed Sorry @$$es… sorry just venting!

  • sontagkc1 11/30/2010 2:06am

    My suggestion is that if they can not get an extension passed, then pass a discount or complete eliminated taxes on unemployment. This would help the unemployed out alot with out spending. If you had taxes taken out of unemployment you would get back more money, if you didn’t you would not have to pay taxes on it, last year they had a measley discount of the first 2400 was not taxable, this year they need to up that or not tax it all. That is stimulas money back into the economy for most of us.

  • Comm_reply
    lspellegrino 11/30/2010 5:31am

    Won’t do me and many others any good! I am out of benefits.

  • sontagkc1 11/30/2010 2:09am

    The onslaught of Bankruptcies and Bad Debt will be more than the banks can handle. I have tried for 18 months, sent out well over 1000 resumes and I have had 6 interviews and no offers in all that time, I have a great job record, I am 48 years old, I was laid off after 10 years on my last job.

  • barbara818 11/30/2010 4:47am

    The Bush era tax cuts have increased overseas investments and outsourced our jobs to the developing nations of China and India without forethought (or any regard) for the Americans that would be displaced. Extending the tax cuts, the war effort and other fruitless government expenses further degrade our society. Are we in a race to be the poorest nation? Are we headed back to the days of feudalism? Our forefathers are appalled at the greed of the elites at the expense of their great experimental society.
    Of the thousands of resumes I have sent out, I have had a 5% hit on mostly because I believe that employers do not want to hire the best and brightest to increase their business, they just want to hire the cheapest candidate because they are only thinking of the current bottom line and not the increase in business they would be receiving by hiring from a more intelligent, experienced candidate pool.
    Our deficit will never come down with this current mindset!

  • Comm_reply
    Nodlee87 11/30/2010 4:49am


  • DeborahJBrown 11/30/2010 6:01am

    C.Payne of Fox News said Republicans want tough love for unemployed. He said unemployed should survive as our forefathers did-some froze to death & engaged in cannibalism, but they survived doing whatever it took! Clearly cannibalism isn’t an option so,how can the most destitute survive winter “the Republican way?”If you a have a home w/no heat or assistance-start a fire inside,bring in a grill & cook squirrel.No water? Bathe in public restrooms. Homeless? Shelters full? Find a vacant building &squat.Spend days at Career Centers,libraries & gov buildings-anywhere w/computer access. Remember,Republicans WANT you there!Ask city hall if you can list their number on your resume.If you get an interview and have a car-don’t worry about the car’s condition or insurance just drive!If you get arrested,it’s food/shelter.Prisons are overcrowded so you won’t be there long. If you want to stay longer,commit bigger crimes!

    Sound ridiculous? Well,“the Republican way” IS ridiculous.

  • 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!

  • Comm_reply
    shakti 12/04/2010 6:57am

    “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.

  • 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.”

  • 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

  • cliff999 11/30/2010 8:02am

    sorry meant kirk is the one term loser

  • 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,”"

    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 8:24am

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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Comm_reply
    Adambomb 11/30/2010 9:19am

    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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Spam Comment

  • 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.!!!

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