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Unemployment Insurance Still May Be Expanded

February 18, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

If you were disappointed that Congress didn’t end up expanding unemployment insurance benefits as part of their economic stimulus package, here is the bill you should be asking your senators and representative to pass:

Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2008

When the stimulus bill was passed a couple of weeks ago, there was a general consensus to drop the extended unemployment insurance and additional food stamp assistance from the Senate’s version of the bill in order to speed the bill towards a quick enactment. But most Democrats in Congress (and just about every economist) felt that beefing up unemployment benefits in the bill would have been ideal. Indeed, as the decision to drop the unemployment provision from the bill was being solidified, House Budget Chairman John Spratt (D-SC) remarked, “Eventually, if this does develop into a recession, I think we’ll be coming back to consider unemployment insurance benefits.”

Ted Kennedy (D-MA), the sponsor of the stand-alone unemployment bill in the Senate, laid out the specifics in a press release:

>EXTENDS AND EXPANDS BENEFITS: Provides 20 more weeks of benefits to eligible workers with an additional 13 weeks in states with high unemployment. Benefits would be temporarily increased by $50 per week to help families with skyrocketing energy and food costs. Eligibility for the extension would last for one year.
>COVERS RECENT EXHAUSTEES: Provides benefits to unemployed workers who exhausted their regular benefits in the year prior to enactment.
>DOES NOT BURDEN STATES OR EMPLOYERS: Fully funds this temporary program to avoid forcing states to make spending cuts or increase taxes on employers.

The House version is here.

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