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Monday, April 4, 2011

President Obama believes cost to fund HR-589 would be too 'prohibitive', bill passage increasingly doubtful

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...Image via Wikipedia
President Obama believe that the
costs to fund HR-589 for nations'
longest unemployed job seekers
would be too 'prohibitive'.

For the longest-term unemployed job seekers, the 99ers, a new terminology has entered the fight in their quest to have HR-589, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act passed by Congress. The definition of ‘Prohibitive’ according to a Google search means: excessively high; difficult or impossible to pay and forbidding or restricting something.

The Crew of 42 reported on their website April 4, 2011, Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chair Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) during an exchange during their meeting on HR-589 on March 30th,with President Obama, that the cost of the bill was “prohibitive.” 

It also seems that president Obama, who as recently as December 19th extended an $857 Trillion dollar tax cut for billionaires, agreed with Rep. Cleaver’s assessment.

“It was what I expected because my staff had done a lot of research on it.  And we found that the cost of that program would be between $14 and 20 billion dollars which is cost prohibitive.  So there was no point in the President saying, ‘yeah I support it’, CBC Chair Representative Cleaver noted to Crew of 42.

“(So) when I laid it out I said to him, ‘Mr. President, I’m going to raise this, and this is one of our issues because this is one of our issues — it’s an issue among our members.  I ended it by saying, however, I understand that the cost is enormous. He (President Obama) said (to Rob Nabors White House Director of Legislative Affairs, sitting on the sofa) ‘Rob how much is it?’ And Rob said, ‘between 14 and 20 billion’ and I said, let’s move on. Because there was no point — that’s not going to happen,” recounted Cleaver
Advocates for the 99ers, including Monica RW a writer for Reach Out Job Search News Blog, stood beside HR-589 sponsors CBC members Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) on February 9th, when they originally announced intend to bring HR-589 to the floor of Congress for a vote. The bill would have provided up to 14 additional weeks of assistance to all unemployed job seekers –whether currently receiving or exhausted- federal based Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits- including Tiers I-IV.

Grassroots unemployment groups, including the Americans 99ers Union and, have encouraged it membership to engage in a series of Twitter chats, calls and faxes to both Republican and Democratic congressional representative; urging their support for HR-589 in the past couple of months. It appears although all of these efforts while notable, that President Obama along with other members of the Democratic party believe that an additional 14 weeks of benefits for the nations’ longest-term job seekers, are just to ‘prohibitive’ to fight for.

In addition, the Crew of 42 reports that in a recent exchange with HR-589 chief sponsor Rep. Barbara Lee, she was silent when reporters from the website inquired last week, if she heard any news from her bill at the recent White House meeting.  Another note that within the two months since announcing the legislation, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has yet to score the bill. This action is unusual in itself as for legislation that has the best chance of passage is normally quickly scored by the GAO.

Reps. Lee and Bobby Scott have meeting with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is scheduled later this week. Still it is doubtful much action will occur on HR-589 as the Federal Government will face a shutdown on April 8th, if an agreement on 2012 fiscal budget is not reached before this date.

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