From an uneasy (that it might not pass) Washington Post:
In Congress, it’s decision time on long-term unemployment benefits
By Perry Bacon Jr.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010; A15
As the Senate this week considers a "jobs bill" to reduce unemployment, lawmakers will have to decide whether to continue an unprecedented change in how the country treats people who are out of work, which was quietly approved last year.
Through a series of laws, including the $787 billion economic stimulus, people in states with high rates of unemployment are eligible to get jobless benefits for up to 99 weeks, an all-time high. But Congress did this in a piecemeal fashion, and it must pass legislation to keep benefits going for an estimated 1 million people who would otherwise become ineligible at the end of the month.
The Senate approved a measure that extended benefits from 79 to 99 weeks in a unanimous vote last year, but GOP lawmakers have not yet said whether they will continue to support the benefits, particularly if they are included in a larger jobs package. And some Democrats favor extending the benefits only temporarily, while another bloc wants an extension that would last the rest of the year.
Unemployment benefits usually last just 26 weeks and have been extended to about 70 weeks in previous economic slowdowns. But this time, Congress not only has extended them but also is spending more than $13 billion each month to fund them, because the federal government is taking on all the cost after the 26 weeks, which states pay for. About 12 million Americans are receiving benefits.
The benefits pay on average 36 percent of a person’s salary from the job that was lost, and the average weekly amount of benefits is about $325. Some economists have said that unemployment benefits can lead people to wait longer to find full-time work. But given how long it is taking for the economy to turn around and for employers to start hiring again, few lawmakers in either party have expressed much reluctance to extend the benefits.
"We have unprecedented long-term unemployment," said Maurice Emsellem, a policy co-director of the National Employment Law Project, which is advocating expanded benefits. "Record unemployment is not the right term; it far surpasses any previous period of unemployment, which is why we need these extra weeks of benefits."
The squeaky wheel…
Make no mistake, this is where the billions for the next ‘jobs bill’ will go.
And why not? What better way to make more people dependent on the government – and thereby make more Democrat voters.
This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Tuesday, February 9th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.