Senate votes to move forward on restoring benefits for long-term unemployed

Photo: Galatea, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Photo: Galatea, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

At the end of December, some 1.3 million Americans who received long-term unemployment insurance from the federal government didn’t get their monthly check. Their benefits were not included in a budget deal that Congress squeaked out before the start of the new year.

Democrats in the Senate are trying to restore the Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which was available to those who couldn’t find work for more than six months. On Tuesday, they saw some progress: the Senate voted 60-37 to move forward with a bill that would extend the compensation for three months.

Here’s a little background about this kind of assistance from NPR:

Federal unemployment benefits were signed into law in 2008 by President George W. Bush to provide an average of $300 a week to jobless Americans for an additional 28 weeks after their state benefits expired. It was meant as a stopgap measure during the recession, which saw the worst unemployment in decades. As the length and depth of the recession dragged on, the measure was extended more than 10 times.

GOP lawmakers pushed not to extend the benefits this time around, arguing that the measure would add billions to the deficit. They also pointed to Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, which show that overall unemployment is at its lowest mark in five years. Democrats counter that long-term unemployment numbers have remained unchanged, and that suddenly cutting off the jobless from federal assistance will only do them harm.

Yesterday’s vote was only a procedural hurdle, and the bill still has to clear the Republican-controlled House. It’s not yet clear whether this will happen. Conservatives say they still need to see proposals for spending cuts elsewhere in the budget to cover the cost of the three-month extension.

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20 Comments on “Senate votes to move forward on restoring benefits for long-term unemployed”

  1. Ken Hall says:

    From what I have read it appears that the amount of dollars added to the US national debt by helping out about 1.3 million unemployed folks is on the order of $6.4Billion for three months yielding about $65Billion for the 10 times the program has been extended. This the Republicans/Conservatives deem outrageous while simultaneously contending that the $90Billion(+-) of debt the US takes on every month via the Fed’s Quantitative Easing program, to keep the coffers of the uber rich overflowing, is an absolute necessity. Hell-of-a-deal.

    Hot debate. Like/Dislike Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  2. Yea, let’s push people off unemployment insurance (where they got job search support and accountability) on to welfare. Great idea.

    Hot debate. Like/Dislike Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  3. Paul says:

    Ken, this is also spending (over just a 3 month period) more money than the entire NSF budget for the whole year (even prior to sequestration). The extension should be made but figuring out how to pay for it is just common sense. Things like basic science research funding through the NSF is a priority that creates good high tech jobs. Figuring out what we should or should not pay for and how is why these folks are in Washington.

    Unfortunately like everything else in Washington this thing is just being spun around. Good political opportunity to use this to portray the GOP as throwing people out into the street.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  4. Peter Hahn says:

    Paul – “figuring out how to pay for it” in Republican-speak means cutting spending which means throwing other people out of work. Nothing is really accomplished. Traditionally, we have not “paid” for it. Presumably, the improvement in the economy that comes from keeping those people in their houses and buying groceries long enough to get jobs results in enough tax money coming in later to take care of things.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  5. Paul says:

    “Paul – “figuring out how to pay for it” in Republican-speak means cutting spending which means throwing other people out of work.”

    No it doesn’t, this is the type of spin I am talking about.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  6. dave says:

    I’m not sure I see how that is spin.

    If you can’t raise revenues to pay for it, and you can’t add to the national debt – two things conservatives reject outright – then the only other option to pay for additional spending like this is to cut something else. Cutting budgets from other programs almost certainly translates into cutting jobs related to those programs. You are just moving the problem around if you do that.

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  7. Paul says:

    “Cutting budgets from other programs almost certainly translates into cutting jobs related to those programs.”

    No it doesn’t. All government spending is not related to jobs. Those on both the left and the right (depending on their particular special interest) would like you to believe that but it is simply false. You actually think that all government spending translates into jobs?

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  8. Walker says:

    Paul, how can you spend money without affecting jobs?

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  9. Paul says:

    One example I can think of is getting rid of some spending that go to industries or individuals where the money is simply thrown on the pile so to speak! So Walker you also think that all government spending translates into jobs?

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. Peter Hahn says:

    Paul – even if cutting spending is stopping building a bridge to nowhere, construction jobs are lost. Maybe if you stop buying $200 dollar hammers for the military and buy cheap ones from the hardware store instead… but even then, the guys making the $200 dollar hammers are out of work. But most cuts involve eliminating public employee’s jobs.

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  11. Paul says:

    ” But most cuts involve eliminating public employee’s jobs.”

    Peter, that isn’t true either. Sometimes it is true but often it is not.

    I am not talking about a bridge to nowhere. What about subsidies to oil companies and farmers that don’t need it? What about things like spending on tax relief programs for older Americans, the ones that are often most likely to have the money to make the payments. These are just a few examples.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  12. Peter Hahn says:

    Even if you look at NSF grants – they are probably 80% for salaries and 20% for supplies. And those supplies are made by somebody. People talk about eliminating “corporate welfare” all the time. If something is wasteful it should be eliminated for its own sake not to offset some other needed expenditure. But there iare probably some powerful interests involved. The politicians from the energy states defend the oil subsidies. The politicians from the farm states defend the farm subsidies. Many of both groups are Republicans, but party affiliation doesn’t seem to matter much.

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  13. dave says:

    Subsidies are absolutely related to jobs. How can you imply they aren’t?! There are family farms right here in the North Country that would not exist without subsidies. You can argue that shouldn’t matter and we should trim or get rid of them anyway, but there is no way you can say they don’t relate to jobs.

    And I have no idea what spending on tax relief programs refers to…

    Maybe there are examples of government budget line items you could cut that would not affect someone’s job… but I am having trouble thinking of a single one right now. Throwing money on a pile? Which budget is doing that?

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  14. Walker says:

    Paul, the only public spending that has zero effect on American jobs is money that leaves the country. Even pointless subsidies to oil companies ends up in somebody’s paycheck somewhere. That’s why Keynesian economics works.

    Of course the multiplier effect is way higher if you spend money by hiring people on the lower end of the wage scale– the money gets into circulation faster and goes through more hands that way.

    (Sorry, Larry, I know… OMG, the deficit… etc. All I can say is, “Eisenhower!”)

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  15. Paul says:

    There are a number of jobs based on government spending that could and should be paid for by the private sector. To eliminate that spending doesn’t mean you will lose those jobs it means someone else will pay for them. Sorry there are ways to do more ( or at least as much) with less or at lest without spending more.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  16. Two Cents says:

    fact is that money given in unemployment benni’s are spent on gas, rent, electric, target, maybe even a local pub.
    it all gets spent back into the system, small businesses depend on this type of spending, and they in turn spend it as well– well the dollars that aren’t sent out of the country……
    in theory it all works (sarcasm)

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    What is the proper conjugation of the word spin in a political context? Spun or spinned?

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Peter Hahn says:

    Paul – so you do want to fire public employees. And your idea is that they will then all be snapped up by the private sector so they won’t add to the unemployment. And this will create jobs for the other unemployed.

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  19. Two Cents says:

    knuck asked, Q: “What is the proper conjugation of the word spin in a political context? Spun or spinned?”

    A:”spun”, but it’s pronounced “screwed”

    paul says: “I am not talking about a bridge to nowhere. What about subsidies ……like spending on tax relief programs for older Americans, the ones that are often most likely to have the money to make the payments.”

    two cents says: “and who was it that was ruffled, when I suggested, what some said amounted to, a tax on children when I thought parents should kick in extra to cover their kids educational costs through income taxes rather than burdening the property tax of childless couples?”

    how is this different -other than semantics?
    all ya’all is crazy
    I believe the term homogenics was thrown in.
    what chromosome is the money gene connected to?

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Mervel says:

    In general I am for extending these benefits.

    The question we have to ask however is for how long? When IS the appropriate cut off point? Are we talking a lifetime benefit here? Some of these individuals have been drawing for several years. It seems like it may just go on and on. Now maybe that is OK?

    Maybe we should re-look at the whole program and say if you are put out of work you can draw unemployment benefits for 1 1/2 or 2 years and that is just what we are going to do. Instead of this constant back and forth.

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