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GOP Blocks Unemployment Extension Again, But Do They Even Know What They're Blocking?

December 2, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

By now it’s a familiar story. Senate Democrats call for a unanimous consent agreement on passing legislation to extend unemployment insurance benefits and a single Republican stand up and objects, blocking the bill from passing on behalf of the entire party. It happened on Tuesday and it happened gains yesterday, this time with Sen. John Barrasso [R, WY] doing the GOP’s dirty work.

On one level this is the same as ever. Republicans want any unemployment extension to be paid for by rescinding funds from the stimulus and Democrats want to fund the extension with deficit spending in order to get the maximum stimulus effect. What was especially troubling about today’s Senate floor action is that it gave us more evidence that, in the midst of an unemployment crisis, some members of Congress may be confused on the basics of federal benefits extensions.

Arthur Delaney at Huffington Post reports:

Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso blocked a request to reauthorize extended unemployment benefits on Thursday, saying a better way to help the unemployed would be to improve the economy by giving “certainty” to businesses on taxes.

“This is about people who have been collecting unemployment benefits for 99 weeks,” said Barrasso, describing the bill he just blocked.

Except he wasn’t describing it. The bill Democrats have been pushing is for a yearlong reauthorization of two programs called Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits, which combined provide up to 73 weeks of benefits in some states. Those programs lapsed this week, meaning people laid off through no fault of their own are now eligible for just 26 weeks of state-funded benefits.

If the lapsed benefits are reauthorized, some unemployed will once again be eligible for up to 99 weeks of benefits — but not any more.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) interrupted Barrasso to correct him. “I just want you to understand that this extension is not for anything beyond 99 weeks,” she said. “We do not have any extension beyond 99 weeks. I just wanted my friend to know that.”

“I appreciate the comments from the senator from California,” Barrasso said.

Barrasso made the same mistake describing unemployment legislation in an interview with PBS on Wednesday evening. “Right now we have benefits for people who are out of work up to 99 weeks so this goes beyond that,” he said. (Barrasso said he supported extending unemployment, just with a Republican bill that offset the cost of the benefits with spending cuts.

Let’s clear this up. For the past two years or so, unemployed workers have been eligible for up to 99 weeks of benefits depending on the unemployment rate of their state. Now that Congress has allowed federal benefits to lapse, the maximum duration that anyone in any state can receive benefits is 26 weeks. The average length of unemployment right now is 34 weeks, so most people who lose their jobs now would go for two months or so without government assistance before they find another job.

The bill Democrats keep bringing up on the floor, S.3981, would restore the up to 73 additional weeks of benefits. It would not add additional weeks beyond the 99 that has been the status quo. It would simply make it possible for people who became unemployed more recently than 99 weeks ago and still haven’t found a job to collect benefits for the same length of time as people who lost their job more than 99 weeks ago.

Democrats argue that this makes sense given that the Federal Reserve is now projecting that the unemployment rate will stay pretty much where it is for all of 2011. Some Democrats are pushing to add weeks beyond the 99 — a bill, S.3706, has been introduced to that effect — but so far the debate has focused on restoring the 99 weeks, not adding more.

Sen. Barrasso is pictured above.

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Comments

Displaying 31-49 of 49 total comments.

  • Comm_reply
    beenblue 12/03/2010 7:57am

    Money redistributed upwards is okay, that`s America and capitalism.
    Money from the top downwards is socialism and Un-American.
    So it`s okay to take from the poor and middle class, and bail out banks and corporate fat cats, who have the motto MORE, MORE, MORE and leave us behind with LESS, LESS, LESS. Yep that`s the New World Order. The American Dream is a nightmare in the hands of the elite few who control the many. Sorry MR4891, I was being cynical, I agree with your post completely.

  • Comm_reply
    MR4891 12/03/2010 9:36am

    Prior to this past election, corporations said that they weren’t hiring, although they have more money now, because they want to save in case Obama creates costs for them. That’s the essence of the current Republican message: that Democratic pursuit of public policies, by not putting sole priority on business, is what’s keeping the economy down. The definition of free market, though, is exactly that the government can’t tell companies what to do. Jobs don’t trickle down from bailouts when there’s intentional maneuvering for control.

  • Comm_reply
    poolplayer 12/03/2010 12:59pm

    That’s the GOP way!!!

  • Catfish8173 12/03/2010 7:58am

    I amnot gonna post my deeply internalrage of a ranti have built up inside of me at this time …But i just wanna post 2 of many names i have come to respect as a person who has been out of work since Feb 09…
    1. Sen Tom Harkin of Iowa… One of the last of a dying breed of people ,men ,politican…
    2. Donnie Shaw…. Thx for being a friend to us who have struggled with society in its present form and to tell it black and white ,point blank how it is..

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 12/04/2010 12:18am

    “Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said he would oppose legislation that cuts taxes for upper-income taxpayers, even if it includes an extension of unemployment benefits and the accompanying tax cuts for the poor that the administration is seeking”

    “The president has already signaled he will accede to Republican demands for extending tax cuts at all income levels, making votes on the Democratic-backed bill purely symbolic and angering some of the rank-and-file in his party.”

    http://www.rep-am.com/articles/2010/12/04/news/national/doc4cf87578aa9ae948536215.txt

    Nothing real will happen till next week today/Saturday is just theatrics

  • Abaratarrr 12/03/2010 10:10am

    4727 is the bill they are voting on staterday it extends the deadlines for the current unemployment extensions. and extends the bush tax cuts for people making less then 200/250K per year, it is not going to pass, they are then going to vote on a bill with a limmet of $1,000,000 for the tax cuts,that is not going to pass, then next week they are going to vote on a bill that extends all the tax cuts, then is that one fails they are going to vote on a bill that extends all of the tax cuts and extends the deadlines to sign up for the current unemployment extension, they are not planning to do anything for the long term unemplyed the 99ers are no longer counted and are being ignored by congress

    see page 147 of the bill to see the unemployment benefits portion.

    http://finance.senate.gov/legislation/details/?id=bda915fc-5056-a032-5262-6a1899fee4e3

  • poolplayer 12/03/2010 1:11pm

    It’s funny how uneducated people are such followers.They figure that the term Tea Party must mean a positive thing for the people.So they listened to what they said and followed.How many unemployed followed them and then voted Republican because of it.Bet you people are regretting it now!Now we all have to suffer for your ignorance.Did you know they only want people who own property to be the only ones allowed to vote?Remember these things when it’s election time and vote for what you think,not what they tell you.Educate yourself,the Democratic way!

  • ExGOP 12/03/2010 3:37pm

    If the Democrats cave in to the Republicans by allowing tax cuts for the top 2%, they better add a Tier 5!!!

    This job market is pathetic! In the past 30 days, I applied for 150 jobs, got one interview, no job offer, and I have four Recruiters working for me who aren’t even calling because there are NO JOBS AND/OR NOT ENOUGH JOBS. I have never ever experienced anything like this before.

    And for Barrasso, he’s an idiot. There should be a law requiring our so-called leaders to read a bill before voting it down or at least have the ability to comprehend what they read, otherwise GET THE HELL OUT OF CONGRESS!!!

  • comments11660 12/03/2010 5:05pm

    Why does Congress not get it? They WILL pay for cutting millions off from unemployment benefits! The crime rate WILL catapult resulting in costs climbing to prosecute and ultimately house in prisons those who resort to all sorts of crimes starting with stealing, selling drugs, prostitution just to garner income. What kind of society will we end up with? Is Congress so dumb they will sit on their laurels at Christmastime and just argue away the days while crime skyrockets due to their inability to extend unemployment benefits? I think this is the stupidest Congress I have ever seen! By the way I am employed and firmly believe the unemployed want to work are looking for work and should be given extended unemployment benefits as long as they continue to look for work! Congress quit arguing and extend now for these poor suffering Americans! Congress aught to be ashamed all of the Republicrats!!!

  • Comm_reply
    badams82 12/04/2010 12:00pm

    CONGRESS needs to FIGHT for the middle class and the unemployed. Fight for the 98% not the 2%. If, they had enough common sense in capitol hill such thing would prevail. If, genuine public human interest could actually surpass dollar signs there, would be actual results and business would be taken care of instead of witnessing political shows.

    It’s clear though that it will not happen unless they get their cut. It’s insane that 2% of the population can have so much influence.After, all they did manage to hold everything else hostage until they accomplish their greedy agenda. How can the GOP sleep at night knowing thousands of Americans are left without help? Oh, wait very soundly because they don’t care!

  • joero 12/03/2010 5:22pm

    i have been a roofer for 24 years, and 2010 has been the worst as far as hours go, i have a week and a 1/2 left before i max out my 26 weeks, then i got to wait till feburary to open my new claim, the sad part is i would have been better off not working for the few days i did work in october and november and i would have made the deadline for the extension, so basically i’m being punished for working. whata a country, on top of this i have no insurance, and because of all this stress i got the shingles. how am i supposed to pay the bills, and my car payment, if i don’t have a car how am i to get to work if i do get another job. then the worst part of the year is coming up, tax time, i got to pay taxes on all the unemployment i recieved, then pay someone to do my taxes for me since i don’t know anything about taxes. pay, pay, pay. the rents due and i can’t pay it. its almost better to go on welfare

  • Kss 12/03/2010 9:24pm

    The more I read on this site the more disappointed and disturbed I am regarding what I had hoped to be a place of information and participation, is instead a place of misleading partisanship going in a single direction.
    Without a place where participants do not self-divide, there is no place where we shall not be conquered.

  • Comm_reply
    beenblue 12/04/2010 9:00am

    Great comment, but rather ambiguous, as people disagree on the most basic of things that don`t include politics and religion ( it`s a difference of opinion that makes a horse race. ) On the other hand are we supposed to gather together and sing cume by ya, while passing the bong so we remain docile, while the elite few take from the many. Is that the one way partisanship going in a single direction that you are referring to ?.

  • Comm_reply
    MR4891 12/05/2010 12:51pm

    Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. If you honestly believe that people here are misleading one another, then you could try to convince. People might not want to listen, if they hold strong opinions to the contrary, but that’s not the same as an outright constraint upon participation. Maybe the positions which you’re so disappointed with have some actual basis.

  • DGalanteNJ 12/04/2010 11:05am

    So lets see, if your a 99er and still can’t find a job (Which you can’t) what do you do…starve in the street? Look folks, there are no jobs, if your over 55 years old no one wants you. They tell you your over qualified, its a nice way of saying your to old. The almost 10% the govt is reporting thats out of work is only part of the numbers, what about all the others who fell off the system and just plain gave up, look around you there are lots of them. Police are even being laid of in NJ…police! Whats going to happen when all hell breaks loose and people start looting and rioting just to survive. Folks, we aren’t in a recession, its a depression. There is no work, people are living in the street, more and more homes are being foreclosed upon and thats the tip of the iceburg. And what is the govt, the people who supposedly work for US doing….trying to get a hand out for the ultra rich. Its just sickening how the little people are being tossed aside. 99ers unite!!!!!

  • gerryd 12/06/2010 1:36am

    PRES. OBAMA HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO EXTEND THE BUSH TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY. THE GOP PUT HIM IN BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE. HE HAD NO CHOICE FOR THE SAKE OF THE MANY UNEMPLOYED IN THE COUNTRY BECAUSE THE 42 GOP SENATORS REFUSED TO EVEN DISCUSS THE U/C SITUATION. THEY WERE NOT WILLING TO GIVE AT ALL UNLESS THE WEALTHY WERE ONCE AGAIN REWARDED AS BUSH DID!!I AM URGING ALL 99ER’S TO WRITE & CALL SENATORS DEBBIE STABINOW, SHARROD BROWN, TOM HARKIN, DEBBIE MCCASKILL,& MITCH MCCONNELL, HARRY REID & YOUR OWN STATE SENATORS & INSIST THAT THEY DO SOMETHING FOR US 99ER’S. WE HAVE TO KEEP ON FIGHTING,& GRIPING BACK & FORTH WITH ONE ANOTHER WILL NOT DO IT. YOU NEED TO LET THEM KNOW THAT MANY OF THE 99ER’S ARE REPUBS AND 2012 IS NOT FAR OFF. CONTACT & TELL THEM THE 99ER’S DESERVE TIER V TO HELP US SURVIVE.I CALL & WRITE THEM EVERYDAY & THAT IS THE ONLY WAY THEY WILL LISTEN TO US. DO IT TODAY PLEASE! THEIR NUMBERS ARE UNDER WWW.WHITEHOUSE.GOV! IF NOT, WE WILL BE THE "FORGOTTEN 99ERS!!!

  • gerryd 12/06/2010 1:45am

    BE FIRM WITH THEM AND NEVER USE FOUL LANGUAGE WHEN YOU CALL. JUST EXPRESS YOUR OPINION AND DESCRIBE YOUR SITUATION AND LET THEM KNOW THAT WE ARE OR AT LEAST WERE THE ONES WHO PUT THEM THERE AND PAID THEIR SALARIES, YET WE ARE STILL ABLE TO VOTE IN 2012 AND CAN PUT THEM DOWN AS WELL!! I AM SURE, MANY OF US DID NOT VOTE BECAUSE WE WERE ANGRY, SO BASICALLY IT IS PARTIALLY OUR FAULTS THAT THE GOP REGAINED CONTROL IN NOVEMBER, BUT AS I SAID, 2012 IS NOT THAT FAR OFF AND THEY HAVE NOT YET TAKEN OUR VOTING RIGHTS AWAY. SO ACCORDING TO THIS NEW BUNCH OF BULL CRAP BY THE GOP, WE SHOULD ALL BE EMPLOYED BY NEXT WEEK, NEXT MONTH, OR NEXT YEAR SINCE THE WEALTHY TAX CUTS WILL TRICKLE DOWN TO CREATE JOBS. WHAT I FORESEE IT DOING IS ALLOWING MORE EXPENSIVE VACATIONS, MORE SEASON TICKET HOLDERS FOR ALL THE PROFESSIONAL SPORTS TEAMS IN LUXURY BOXES OF COURSE, MORE VACATION HOMES, NEW CARS FOR THEIR KIDS AND GRANDKIDS, AND TRUST FUNDS AND INVESTMENT PROTFOLIOS GROWING!!! BUT WE WILL SEE WON’T WE?

  • Comm_reply
    badams82 12/06/2010 8:06am

    On my end I contacted Reid several weeks ago and I just got a response.He co-sponsors S. 3706 and from his response they are supposedly pushing that one forward or anything that will add a 5 tier. Also, I’m one that believes that if they can send me e-mails and phone calls when they want my vote I, should be able to e-mail them when I am concerned. Also, I agree the Democrats had no other choice but to negotiate. They, all knew that the votes would not pass on Saturday the only reason they went is so that they could be on record that the Democrats are Fighting for the Middle Class and the GOP Fights for the Wealthy 2%.

  • badams82 12/06/2010 8:24am

    Obama cannot pass the bills he can only sign!!! That’s why we have Congress and only they can pass!! He can pressure and voice his disappointment. Now,let’s face it if the greedy GOP blocks the bill unless they get their cut what is Obama and the democratic congress supposed to do?! Negotiate!! GOP, gets what they want again by playing dirty and allowing unemployment to lapse for thousands of Americans while they worry about their $.

    GOP = GREED, OBSTRUCT, PITIFUL.

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