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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 31-51 of 51 total comments.

  • fakk2 03/26/2011 1:40pm

    Jess01869 – I’m not saying what happened to you was a good thing because I don’t like seeing anyone on the streets homeless and destitute, but after reading your entry, I have to wonder a couple of things:

    1.) Why would you want to work for that company again?
    2.) Assuming you can’t get your job back and can’t find work in a related field, have you applied to McDonald’s or Pizza Hut or something?
    3.) Why not move to where the jobs are within your own state?
    4.) Have you thought about starting a janitorial company, at least for part time work? Or a maid company or something?

  • Good4eco 03/26/2011 2:17pm


    Seems like some people just like to be difficult, ahem Fakk2. I see your point though the government would never consider such a proposition. Sounds to be that you should have pressed legal action with the company you were fired from, there are rights protecting “whistle-blowers.” If you haven’t already, I would research it if I were you. Sounds like you got ultimately screwed over and I’m sorry to hear you went through that. Good luck with everything.
    I too support the 99ers and believe there should continue to be benefits until there is more job growth. I recently found work after 5 years of being unemployed and I lost everything I had.There are so many people suffering with no means of income once they lose benefits. I don’t wish any of this on my worse enemy. People really should come together instead of working against one another and as Jess01869 said said this does effect everyone. Keep an open mind.

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 03/27/2011 6:09am

    Ooooh, I feel Giddy! Seems like someone was talking about me and OC and had a friend register. Although we disagree on politics it is good to see others on the boards.

  • Good4eco 03/26/2011 2:33pm

    1)Top reasons: They had excellent medical benefits~I have a failing kidney and am due for a transplant soon, I’m 29 years old and really need(ed)the insurance. The company also gave the opportunity to advance and gave out raises every 6 months if one had a good job dialogue for a given time period. I even had a $1 raise 2 weeks before I did transfer and at that point was making very good money. They also had a very good 401 K plan. They had several programs that allowed you to go overseas to save wildlife, help poor countries by building houses or teaching children~I could go on. The company was excellent though I do not care to apply there anymore. What I had was a good thing and it’s over and done with.
    2)Yes, I have applied at Pizza Hut as a matter of fact and every single coffee shop & diner in my tiny town and none are hiring.
    3)I do not have the means to move, if I did I would be in Austin right now which would be my ultimate plan if my benefits weren’t ending.

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 03/27/2011 6:34am

    So, if I understand you Good4eco, you wouldn’t have needed to apply at that job if you were healthy, primarily at least, right? I can understand the advancement and the raises, but out of the description Jess01869 gave versus the benefits you gave, it doesn’t really seem worth it except for the medical benefits. I’ve worked in companies that were “dog eat dog” and blacklisted employees and such, much like what Jess01869 had described. Those are horrible places to be in. So, the 401K, the wildlife conservation, the $1 raise, was it really worth the hassle of working for people like what was described?

    Also, aren’t there friends or family members in other towns you could stay with? That way you could find a job somewhere else. Worst case scenario, you could take part in a couch surfing program or something.

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 03/27/2011 6:35am

    Now, not having the means to move is understandable, but it’s only 2 hours to Dallas from what’s been said, is there no way to pay for someone to take you there so you could find work or anyone willing to take 4 hours of their weekend to help you out? I’ve lived out of my car for 6 months while trying to make a new life for myself in a town that wasn’t the small town I grew up in when I had no money. It wasn’t a good job but it paid enough for me to get a fleabag motel room with a shower 2 days a week. And after a while in that I started to find other jobs which paid better and slowly moved up from there.

  • Jess01869 03/26/2011 2:38pm

    Thanks Katie for the pep talk (Good4eco), but you didn’t log off! ;) Anyway-yes the above are all true.

  • Good4eco 03/26/2011 2:57pm

    I did actually log off, got to love libraries? I meant what I said, I wasn’t saying that because you are a close friend and Fakk2 please back off. You should be more sensitive to what people are going through. If you live in a small town it is pretty hard to start your own business and why would you do so if businesses that are already established are shutting down every where not to mention it takes money to open and maintain one in the first place, that makes no sense. The economy sucks and everyone knows it. The government can dish out money for wars but not provide for their own people. Families are suffering. The majority of the country is going to end up on welfare. And who the hell would rather be on unemployment than work? When I was receiving benefits I made $700 a month and now I work for a temp agency for 7.25 an hour because I got lucky. Not everyone is fortunate to find work or make an expensive move to find it! I think you are being very close minded here.

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 03/27/2011 5:57am


    Back off of what? Back off of wondering how someone could end up in their situation, or wondering if the company is to blame, or wondering what’s being done about it, or why people aren’t boycotting their old employers, or why people aren’t starting janitorial companies left and right (since you pretty much have everything in your home to start it), or, heaven forbid, wondering what their plan is other than get another tier of unemployment? (I’m assuming at least you or Jess01869 lives in Texas, what do you think of drug testing for government assistance?)

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 03/27/2011 5:59am


    If you read over what I’ve said you’ll see I’m not attacking Jess01869, I’m merely stating from what s/he has told me I’m not sure the company is fully at fault (because s/he listened to her/his friend(s) instead of following policy which bit her/him in the butt) and, as much as it breaks my heart to see anyone living on their dire edges, I don’t feel that situations like these require another tier of unemployment.

    We already have people who think the government is their piggy bank (welfare, crazy checks, etc.), we don’t need to add to that. If instead of spending $30 – $100 million a week in Libya we gave that to border security and unemployment, ok then, at least it’s offset. But if we can’t offset it then we have no business doing it.

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 03/27/2011 5:59am

    And, no offense Good4eco, but if it wasn’t possible or practical to open a new business then people wouldn’t be doing it. But there are. Hell, I am. So, although the economy sucks in your “small town”, how is it anyone else’s responsibility to pay for you to live in that small town, or move to another town, other than yourself?

    BTW, from my home “small town” about 70 percent of the people at or below the poverty line would rather not work but collect government checks. They actually keep their kids from going to school and get them diagnosed with ADD or ADHD in order to collect “crazy checks” from the government. And as soon as they qualify for unemployment, at least at my previous company, you’d notice their job performance suffer until you fired them, and they ALWAYS filed for unemployment. They never got it from us because we had a decent lawyer, but they’d file.

  • Sethanderson 03/26/2011 3:39pm

    That is one weird mix-up,took me a minute to realize what was going on with this thread.
    There is no doubt the economy is suffering. It is very unlikely that the 99ers will see any relief at all and really how long is it supposed to go on? When does the government stop adding weeks? The deficit is enormous. I do not agree with some of the programs they are cutting funding for and if there is going to be another extension it really does need to be paid for or offset somehow(not that you agree or disagree.)I am not here to judge and my heart goes out to all those who are on unemployment struggling to scrape by. I live in Rockford where it is very hard for the unemployed to find work. It is a harsh reality that there aren’t many jobs out there. If you haven’t done so already,I say write your senators to urge them to take action with this, to reach a compromise, and have it paid for first. You may get somewhere by doing so rather than posting comments.

  • Jess01869 03/26/2011 8:18pm

    I agree with you Sethanderson. As I mentioned previously, I did not support the added tier last year, I just thought that surely there would be plenty of jobs~so wrong. I have seen tons of job growth in areas like Austin. I live in a very small town with not much to offer and I have applied everywhere I can, multiple times even. As for Good4eco stated-the town we live in, there are businesses being wiped out all over though mainly to build condos. If I had a vehicle I would even make the 2 hour commute to Dallas. I have written to plenty of senators and some are pretty good about responding and sharing their views. I too feel this legislation will not see the light of day though I hope otherwise. Very scary when one is facing being homeless. I really hope a compromise can be worked out to where an extension/additional tier is added and paid for as well. This country is such a mess right now and people really need help~but how to do it without adding to the deficit? What a quandary!

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 03/27/2011 6:06am


    How to do it without adding to the deficit is a good question. A discussion I had with someone else on another posting (not sure if they want me to use their name or not) suggested:

    1.) Cap defense spending at what the entire rest of the world spends (which, according to them, would cut the budget by half, I haven’t verified that but it makes sense.
    2.) End the oil subsides($68 billion)
    3.) End corn subsides($100+ billion)
    4.) Triple royalty rates for resource extraction industries using public lands
    5.) End the bush tax cuts and in fact increase the top bracket to at least 50%.

    Now, I agreed with this person that it seemed like a good idea except for #5, I don’t think raising taxes will help us or is called for, but if we did this, and then added another tier for unemployment, it’d be a surplus budget (in theory). I don’t know the logistics of doing this but at least it’s a thought.

  • danijos 03/27/2011 8:26pm

    hmm will another country come help us if we start a revolution? when are we going to stand up and telll our Gov’t we are tired of them Ignoring us? I know we are not as bad off as other countries and im thankful for what I do have but when you have no income and trying to take care of your family its just to much to take. But the gov’t always seem to find money for other Stupid shit instead of taking care of their own, as for congress too many dam Vacations! and with pay! then soon spring break too! DO your Jobs! stop taking breaks and get rhe jobs you were elected to do Done! stop bickering like Old Hags!

  • Jess01869 03/28/2011 3:04pm

    More like call them and tell them NOT to oppose the bill!

  • Jess01869 03/28/2011 3:09pm

    Scott and Lee agreed to fund the $16 billion bill with spending offsets.

  • fakk2 04/02/2011 9:45am
  • fakk2 04/02/2011 9:53am
  • fakk2 04/02/2011 10:05am
  • fakk2 04/03/2011 1:25pm

    you know, there really should be a way for us to hyperlink in our comments…

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