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Progress for 99ers Legislation

March 22, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

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.

Arthur Delaney at the Huffington Post reports:

Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have agreed to meet with two Democrats to discuss longshot legislation for the long-term unemployed, the members’ offices confirmed Tuesday.

Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.) introduced legislation earlier this year to provide 14 additional weeks of unemployment benefits to Americans who’ve been out of work for six months or longer. Lee and Scott have spoken frequently about the struggles of so-called “99ers” — people who still haven’t found work after exhausting the maximum 99 weeks of benefits available in some states.

The Lee-Scott proposal received zero initial support from Republicans because it would add roughly $16 billion to the federal budget deficit. Lee and Scott later announced they’d be open to finding budget cuts to offset the cost of the benefits, something Democrats have generally refused to do for federal extended jobless aid typically enacted during recessions.

Given that concession, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have agreed to meet with Lee and Scott sometime in the next few weeks to discuss possible cuts to fund the benefits.

There have been some shaky indications in the past that Speaker Boehner could get behind adding more weeks of unemployment insurance if they are offset. For example, Kelly Wiedemerof at the Denver Examiner reported in January that a spokesperson in Speaker John Boehner’s [R, OH] office told her that Boehner “supports U.I. extensions if they are paid for.”

Most Democrats, Lee and Scott included, prefer to not offset the costs of unemployment benefits because they believe doing so would negate the stimulative economic effects of directing funds to people who are most likely to spend it. Analyses from the Congressional Budget Office and many economists support their position. However, with the Republicans in control of the House, sticking to that position would almost certainly mean that nothing gets done for the 99ers until 2013 at the earliest. The Democrats are going to have to choose between ideal economic policy and pragmatic action to help the hardest hit victims of the financial crisis and the recession. If the Republicans are willing to negotiate in good faith on this, I think the Democrats will ultimately give in too. That said, finding $16 billion in cuts that can win a majority vote in both chambers is going to be extraordinarily difficult. Remember, the House Republicans are demanding spending cuts as offsets, so closing tax loopholes and the like won’t be in play.

Reps. Lee and Scott are pictured above. Photo courtesy of TalkMediaNews used under a CC license.

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Displaying 1-30 of 51 total comments.

  • sontagkc1 03/22/2011 9:42am

    They not only need to do this, they need to insist that the states quit holding up federal funding for the State Extended Benefits, Missourians start losing benefits after Apr 2 even if they have funds available in their accounts, because a handful of MO REPS don’t want to accept the funds, forcing thousands of MO into trouble because they won’t have benefits. These funds were already granted to the state by the Federal government for the Unemployed. I am 48 years old and I have used the WIA program and every means at my disposal and the jobs just aren’t there, they won’t hire me to work at those jobs and that is what this guy is saying, They won’t hire us at any of those jobs, I have been told that.
    People who were not effected do not understand the situation out there.
    I have never seen it like it is now, if there were 3 or 4 part time jobs that would actually hire me I would have been off unemployment months ago!

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 03/24/2011 1:53pm

    Doesn’t all federal funds come with strings attached, such as “if you take this $100 million, then you have to do X,Y,Z”? where is the law granting these funds so that we can review it to see if it does have stipulations or not? If it doesn’t, then I can definitely see your point. But if it does have strings attached, then maybe it’s better overall not to have it injected into your economy?

  • sontagkc1 03/22/2011 9:45am

    These Checks stand between us eating, keeping our homes and cars so we can eventually find a job. My husband lost his job, but is in warehousing and was able to get another job in about 6 months. I have not been so lucky. We still have the same bills we had before our income was cut in half. These checks make the difference between us keep our house or losing it!

  • blackychikiz15 03/22/2011 12:46pm

    We gotta wait until 2013? Lol what a joke . Screw the goverment seriously do nothing for the poor but got money for wars ..

  • cheftimsmith 03/22/2011 3:27pm

    When will it be enough? How many weeks will be enough weeks? We cannot continue extending these benifits endlessly. Life is difficult and we are all put in situations that are not to our benifit or not fair. No one has the right to a job, right to a paycheck, right to a house. When will my family have given enough? Self reliance and personal resposability are the cornerstones of freedom. An entitlement mentality is the antihisis of it.

  • DeborahJBrown 03/23/2011 3:55am

    They aren’t serious about this issue — In fact, they’re too busy pretending the problem doesn’t exist. Our representatives have demonstrated time and time again… THEY DO NOT CARE!!!!!

  • buffalobill91 03/23/2011 5:46am

    Maybe we could “find” the money to pay for this by not FLUSHING $100 million a day on missiles to help “rebels” in Libya overthrow their government on the other side of the globe …We we ever learn??? Its none of our F’n business- the unemployed are OUR business….

    We need to mow our own lawn before we worry about what the neighbors are doing.

  • craines 03/23/2011 6:07am

    Thanks for the update, I would say by the lack of responses to this article you can tell most 99er’s have giving up,lost hope. The job market is no better, and now republican governors are coming after the unions. The (middle class) will tighten up and stop spending.

    Call this assault anything you want,but it speaks volumes about the republican party. Everybody that I have talked to believes that all these governors are going to far. Being from Michigan our new governor has cut student funding by over $700.00 per pupil making it impossible for teachers, custodians, cooks to renegotiate there contracts.

    You can not run a state like a business, you have to have compassion for the older residents as well as the low income. You come in and wipe out the union way of life. Give corporations a tax free ride,the answer to everything is charter schools and privatization.
    There’s big money in privatizing and these republicans will be getting there share. Minimum wage is next.


  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 03/24/2011 1:50pm

    So, although Michigan is spending $7k – $9k+ per pupil, $700 less is the worst thing they could’ve done? I ask, because the average teacher salary in Michigan is over $62k per year.

    If they were truly running it as a business, taxes would be 100%, after all, business is in it for the profit. As far as compassion goes, no government in the history of the world has been as compassionate as this one, and look where it’s gotten us.

  • ssari30 03/24/2011 11:38am

    To cheftimsmith, First off you do not pay for the benefits that are given to the unemployed. Second what are you doing on a blog that has nothing to do with you or your family?? And lastly it seems to me, that you have no life. If you do it’s probaley a miserable one at that. Cheftimsmith do us all a huge favor and blog somewhere else!!

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 03/24/2011 1:41pm

    Yeah, attacking a person instead of the idea itself is always a smart plan of action. Bravo to you. Unfortunately for you he does have a good point and since there’s not a comprehensive argument against it, I have to side with him.

  • Jess01869 03/24/2011 3:31pm

    I used to not support an extra tier 5 until my father came to stay with me after he lost everything he owned after exhausting all his benefits. I have too since lost my job and am on my final weeks. It is in fact really difficult to find work especially when one lives in a small town with nothing to offer and you have no means to move to where there may be opportunities opening up. It is one hell of a catch 22. I am a firm believer that a tier 5 would help a lot of people in need right now and those getting it would have a greater chance of getting employed than just being cut off with no life line to actively seek work or relocate. As of April 12th when I receive my last $324 from unemployment, I will have nothing keeping my rent or bills paid and I will become less likely to be hired anywhere.

  • fakk2 03/24/2011 4:34pm

    I’m not saying being out of benefits is a bad thing, or that everyone’s struggles aren’t horrible, but Will Smith’s movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” was based on a real guy, with a real kid, in real situations like what is depicted in the movie. I wonder if he was on assistance at that time, and if he wasn’t, I wonder how he ever had the strength to do so much good for his child and himself without assistance.

  • Jess01869 03/24/2011 8:49pm

    I’ll continue to support the idea of extensions until there are more jobs,a major change in workers rights and protection from wrongful termination which doesn’t even exist in Texas. I was told by a lawyer “an employer can fire you just because they don’t like your shade of lipstick and there isn’t a damn thing you could do about it.” How can anyone be secure in their job? This can happen to anyone. How about giving jobs back to those individuals who were “let go” or fired who are eligible for rehire at the previous company they worked for when positions open up? If this were the case, I would one less person on unemployment facing being homeless and I’m not the only one. So many people are suffering and it’s very hard to stick together in a financial crisis that it does effect everyone. This extension is needed promptly until there is a positive change as far as the economy & job growth goes. It isn’t going to help when millions end up on welfare after their benefits come to a halt.

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 03/25/2011 9:05am


    Not to be overly insensitive, because the question “how can you survive without an income” is a valid question, but isn’t “no guarantee” kind of the point of life? I mean, worst case scenario, you get shot in your home at night and are robbed of your life and liberty. There’s no guarantee that will not happen. Also, there’s no guarantee anyone is secure in their job. Now, that lawyer friend of yours is an idiot because you can’t be fired for wearing 1 shade of lipstick unless your company provides equal guidelines for all female employees and you violate that like Darlene Jespersen did.

    If you violate your company dress code, then yes, you can be fired. But even in a work-at-will state employees have protection from being fired for discriminatory reasons, like sexual harrassment.

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 03/25/2011 9:06am

    If you’re the best employee your company can find (not that you think you are, but you actually are), and your company can afford to keep you, and your company decides to keep you, then you can rest assured you will most likely have a job the next day. Now, if your company cannot afford to keep you (you’re getting too high a wage), if your company decides they don’t need your position right now, or you’re not actually the best employee out there for your position, then yes, you can get fired. It’s simple economics as well as sound business. Businesses, just like governments, are not charities for us to be able to afford our lives or lifestyles.

  • Jess01869 03/25/2011 11:35am

    I worked at a company for 6 years when a family emergency forced me to transfer to another location. I was fired at that location after 28 days simply because the manager did not like me and made this very vocal and she had quite a reputation for being a horrible manager. I called my HR and contacted my former managers at the location I was at for many years and it was decided I was eligible for rehire but that it was up to me to find an open position. That is when I consulted a lawyer and several in fact in Texas who all did sum it up that an employer can fire you because they do not like you for “whatever reason”. I submit 20 applications or more every 3 days and haven’t found anything yet. I have applied at my previous company 95 times and am not getting anywhere with them either. It has been almost 2 years and my benefits are done April 12th~a year ago I couldn’t imagine how anyone could be on unemployment so long or the need for a tier 5. Here I am along with millions of others…

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 03/25/2011 12:25pm

    Ok, so 1.) How did I find a job in Texas within 2 months of moving there and 2.) They probably didn’t want to rehire you because you consulted a lawyer. No idea if that’s the case or not, but assuming you’re an excellent employee who never missed days or took time off, and got all the work done and was just a great employee all around that people liked, then I’m pretty much betting it’s that you consulted a lawyer, or multiple lawyers. Maybe you can get people to boycott the employer if you give people the name of the company. I don’t like what’s happened to you, but I don’t think the employer is fully at fault from what you’ve said either, although they refuse to rehire you. Also, have you tried taking them off your resume, or do you tell potential employers about them? If you still tell potential employers about them, they may be making reference calls and hearing things from them that may or may not be true, but that’s a worst case scenario example.

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 03/25/2011 12:31pm

    Now, to apply your situation to the bigger picture. Why aren’t we seeing boycotts of employers refusing to rehire employees they let go 2 years ago? That would be interesting, put pressure on the companies, and create a strong dialogue b/w the pros and cons of another tier of unemployment. Even if 99ers are homeless, I’m sure someone could gather them up to boycott employers in their home state, and as soon as the media takes hold of it, then the dialogue happens.

  • Jess01869 03/25/2011 6:34pm

    When I had transferred I was asked by a separate manager to conduct a list of everything I felt was wrong with the department so that as a team myself and other employees could make it run better and like the flagship location I was at for 6 years. I had other employees approaching me telling me how awful the working conditions were and what I could do to help change things. Not only that the department manager in question was not following company policy or operating under the company’s core values which I reported to the store manager. That is when the department manager started changing her attitude toward me and started to verbally abuse me. I told her upfront that her behavior was inappropriate and that I wanted to set up a meeting with the store manager as soon as possible (this was standard procedure.) She informed me that he was on vacation until Monday and it was Thursday. When I came into work the next day (Friday) she allowed me to clock in and fired me directly afterward.

  • Jess01869 03/25/2011 6:44pm

    It was very apparent to me that she knew her behavior combined with others employees who were also planning on coming forward about was going to get her fired. She used me as an example, lucky me. I demanded to speak to my HR representative who had set up for me to transfer back to the location I had worked at for 6 years (I was only a week away from going back.) That is when they decided to have a meeting with headquarters who determined I could partake in the repeal trial which i would have to conduct an essay and file a formal complaint within 7 days (deadline). After doing this I was then contacted by HR and headquarters the following day who told after reviewing my files that they did not require me to have a trial, an essay, or file a complaint and that I was eligible for immediate rehire as soon as moved back. I relocated within 7 days and when I got there I was THEN told it was up to me to find a position~there were 15 at the time and I applied for each that pertained to my

  • Jess01869 03/25/2011 6:57pm

    previous position. Things began to get really shady after that. When I arrived to speak to HR they told me that now they only required the formal complaint and that was all. I filed the formal complaint against the department manager at the location I was fired from. HR then informed me that they would see that I get in a position promptly since I had followed the procedures and that it was going to be very easy for me. I didn’t hear anything back for a week and began to contact them again. I was then told by several others that I would have gotten my job back if I had done the entire repeal process but to keep trying. It was 95 times total that I had applied in an 11 month period when a close friend who was a manger of a different department told me I was blacklisted and I would show up on this list every time I submitted an application. It was suggested I take legal action from a close friend working for the US Attorneys office in another state after explaining the situation.

  • Jess01869 03/25/2011 7:20pm

    Of course I was informed by every lawyer I contacted that nothing could be done in the state of Texas hence the “they can fire you if they don’t like you” remark. The company has no idea I was seeking legal advice since nothing ever came of it. I honestly don’t know what happened other than I should have pressed the repeal trial but didn’t think it was necessary to do so at the time since headquarters are the ones who conduct it and told me I didn’t need to. I think someone in upper management was very clever and covering their own butt from getting canned (since the location I worked for was violating so many policies and safety procedures.)So I concluded from my experience that there should be stricter laws pertaining to wrongful termination. I SOMETIMES put my previous employer on my application to avoid a 6 year gap in employment history. As far as Texas law goes~an employer is only allowed to say you worked there for x amount of time and whether you are eligible for rehire or not.

  • Jess01869 03/25/2011 7:48pm

    Fakk2~ I do have friends that are managers at that company that do give me good references that are contacted directly so I don’t believe that’s an issue as to why I can’t find work. I did find a job 3 weeks after I was fired from there but it went out of business 3 months after I started (that one I usually leave out of resumes.)I was never just sitting there not doing anything holding out to get rehired at the company I was with for so long. In addition to applying there I was seeking work anywhere else I could find but it just hasn’t happened again. There are jobs in Texas but it depends where you live and what your field is~Austin and Dallas are suddenly booming(this was not the case at all last year so improvement there.) Places like EL Paso, Plano, Denton,and Fort Worth simply aren’t. If one is on unemployment and actually has the means to make a move to where there are more opportunities then I say go for it. Hopefully we will see more job creation in the areas that are lacking.

  • ssari30 03/26/2011 11:57am

    I must have missed it, Because where is the good point?

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 03/26/2011 12:14pm

    That’s pretty much what I was thinking ssari30

  • Jess01869 03/26/2011 12:55pm

    The point is there needs to be more job creation before they decide to cut people off on benefits, obviously.

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 03/26/2011 1:43pm

    Then we end up with people who think they’re owed money for not doing any work…oh wait….yeah…..that’s kinda happened already.

  • Jess01869 03/26/2011 1:00pm

    I only explained my situation Fakk2 since you were making assumptions as to why I probably wasn’t finding work or why I wasn’t getting rehired at my old job since I had contacted a lawyer. My father was fired due to age discrimination and that along with other stories I’ve heard from other people just gave me the idea that there should be stronger laws protecting workers rights~that’s it and that’s all. No one is asking you to support the notion or that of an added tier. These are my own opinions, not trying to force my ideas on others by any means.

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 03/26/2011 1:42pm


    “that along with other stories I’ve heard from other people just gave me the idea that there should be stronger laws protecting workers rights~that’s it and that’s all. No one is asking you to support the notion or that of an added tier. These are my own opinions, not trying to force my ideas on others by any means.” — Who said you were?

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