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Thursday, November 18, 2010

House Democrats Quietly Introduce A Three-Month Unemployment Extension Legistlation

Jim McDermottImage via Wikipedia
With little fanfare, Congressman
Jim McDermott (D-WA) introduced
a three-month unemployment
extension bill.
Quietly done, without little reporting in the media, House Democrats on November 17th introduced an initial unemployment insurance re-authorization bill, reported in the Huffington Post. The reason why the Democrats probably decided to introduced the bill with little fanfare is the jobless extension legislation proposed, is only for three months.

Congress has until November 30th to reauthorize federally-funded unemployment benefits currently supporting up to five million long-term jobless. Due to another scheduled recess Thanksgiving week, to beat the clock, House Representatives would have actually until Friday, November 19th;  then they return back to work for a 15 day working session starting December 1st.

Up to 2 Million jobless would gradually lose much needed supplemental compensation, until the end of the 2010. Some current recipients will lose payments immediately on November 30th, and others lose benefits throughout the month of December 2010.

If Congress does not pass a re-authorization to HR-4213 “The Emergency Compensation Act of 2010” by December 31st, only unemployed individuals under their initial state funded 26 weeks, will be eligible for the supplemental income program.

"The unemployed in this country face a grim holiday season if we don't act quickly," said Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), who co-introduced the bill with House Ways and Means Chairman Sander Levin (D-MI), stated to the Huffington Post. "In 75 years we have never cut federal unemployment benefits when the unemployment rate has been this high."

Federally-funded extended benefits previous were a regular part of Congressional agenda response to high unemployment rates, for every recession going back to the 1950s. 

In the early 1980s, people laid off through no fault of their own, could get up to 55 weeks of jobless assistance. During this period, extended benefits that time were not phased out until the unemployment rate declined to 7.2 percent. The c national unemployment rate is 9.6 percent, with some large states like California, Nevada, New York and Michigan, reaching over the double digits levels.

In states where the unemployment rate is over 8.5 percent, the long-term jobless have been able to draw 73 weeks of federally-funded aid after exhausting their 26 weeks of state benefits. Other states unemployed job seekers have been eligible for up to 73 weeks of state and federal extended benefits, combined.

"Terminating this emergency unemployment assistance will not only devastate families, but it also will hurt the entire economy by depressing consumer confidence and demand," said Congressman Sander Levin to Huffington Post. "We simply cannot afford to conclude this Congress without responding to those Americans who have been most hurt by the recession."

A three-month extension would avert a grim holiday season, but possible cause additional pain for the long-term jobless at the beginning of spring, in March; as it is widely suspected that incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), is not likely to lead his caucus in voting for another reauthorization. 

Unemployment advocacy groups, like the National Employment Law Project (NELP) have called for a full year extension, which the estimates say would cost $65 billion dollars.

A shorter extension "gets you right into [the next Congress] so the Republicans can kill it," Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) told Huffington Post. "Three months is nice, but you think the recession's ending in three months?"

As reported on “Reach Out Job Search" on November 17th, Republicans and a growing number of Democrats, are willing to add billions to the deficit in to extend the widely known Bush Era 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for those earning over 250K a year. In the same aspect, many of those same elected representative’s claim they have lost the appetite for deficit spending; while knowing full-well that tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, add directly, to the deficit.

Previously to the extreme “unwilling to compromise” nature of the elected members of the current and upcoming Congress; jobless benefits were traditionally paid for with deficit spending, instead of budget cuts or tax hikes.

Speculation have rose that Democrats will cut a deal to reauthorized the supplemental income payments by attaching the benefits to the expiring Bush-era tax cuts on December 31st, or by reducing the number of weeks of aid available.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, Democrats have yet scheduled a vote on unemployment benefits, including on a bill that currently sits in the body for the 99ers (unemployed who received 73-99 weeks of benefits and are currently exhausted) S-3706 “The Americans Want To Work Act” sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

It is widely believed that with the issues Congress is having with the timely extension of benefits under the current extension, expiring November 30th; the 99ers, who have in some cases been without any income since April 2010, will not see any additional assistance from the current or future Congress members.

What are your thoughts on this article? Do you believe that a three-month extension of unemployment benefits is a "band-aid" long-term jobless measure from the Democrats, which the Republicans will turn around a end completely in the spring? Are you a 99er realizing that Congress is not willing to consider S-3706, at all? If so, what are your feeling on this? Feel free to comment on this story below!
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