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Democrats Rally to Support Unemployment Insurance Extension

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Congressional Democrats on Wednesday stood with more than 100 jobless workers in an attempt to drum up public outrage after Republicans prevented an extension of federal unemployment benefits for millions of Americans who are out of work.

"Has the Republican leadership in Congress lost all sense of justice?" asked Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. "Where is the sense of moral outrage?" he said during a news conference that resembled a revival meeting, with audience members, many wearing union T-shirts, cheering and chanting, "Pass it now."

Two million Americans face a cut off of benefits this month and by spring that number could increase to 6 million, said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. Solis cited a Bush-era Labor Department study showing that every dollar of unemployment insurance that is spent generates two dollars in the economy, and said that federal benefits have never been ended during a recession when unemployment was so high.

With the unemployment rate at 9.6 percent, Democrats argue that jobless Americans are suffering due to no fault of their own. State-administered unemployment insurance provides benefits for up to 26 weeks, but the federal government can extend help for up to 99 weeks, and routinely does so during economic hardship. Congress has passed eight such extensions during the current economic downturn, most recently in July, but missed the Tuesday deadline to pass another extension.

Republicans argue that any extension should be offset by spending cuts to avoid adding to the deficit. Democrats call that hypocrisy, since Republicans are insisting on an extension of the Bush tax cuts for wealthy Americans without paying for them at a cost of $700 billion over 10 years

"We have to pay for unemployment insurance, we don't have to pay for tax cuts for the rich," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. "Tax cuts do not create jobs. They haven't throughout the Bush administration. Unemployment insurance creates jobs and does not add to the deficit."

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., told MSNBC Monday (the same day he was sworn in to President Barack Obama's old Senate seat) that Republicans do appreciate the importance of assisting Americans who can't find work.

"As long as they [benefits] are paid for," he said. "Proposals that extend benefits but just add the bill to the deficit take us in the direction of Greece and Ireland that are now imploding as economies."

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Scott Brown, facing pressure from constituents in Democrat-friendly Massachusetts, was floating an alternative proposal.

"The compromise bill I introduced last night would extend unemployment benefits for one year without raising taxes or adding to the national debt, and it would be paid for by using unspent federal funds, some of which have been sitting around for years," Brown said in a video released Wednesday. Brown's plan enlists the help of the Office of Management and Budget to identify unspent funds, but does not include specifics on where those loose dollars are located.

It's unclear what the next move is for either Republican or Democratic proposals. Congressional leaders have limited time left in the lame-duck session to make decisions on numerous issues, including the Bush tax cuts, set to expire at the year's end, the START arms control treaty, and legislation to fund the federal government.

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Rob & Kathy

jjohnblack0124:29 PM Dec 3, 2010 I saw the numbers reported today. And if we had responsible people in congress the last two years instead of a bunch of obstrutionist republicans who blocked meaningful jobs legislation over and over again we might have had more jobs creation. *********** The Democrats have held the majority since 2007. Obviously, all the "obstructionists" weren't Republicans...

December 03 2010 at 10:43 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

lo colon1:00 PM Dec 3, 2010 Rob and Kathy: tell us how tax cuts for the rich are going to create jobs? Unemployment Benefits are spent immediately on necessities at the local level benefiting local merchants and forstalling collapse of local businesses. It is a true stimulus and a moral imperitive. Cut out these benefits, the immediate result will be an additional burden on state welfare budjets, food stamps, local homeless shelters, and charities at a time when state deficits are at a all time high, a good e.j. Texas is 29 Billion in the hole. What's the GOP solution: cut aid to the poor, cut school lunches, cut Social Security, raise medicare premiums on Seniors, and so on. Good ol' Reagonomics, uh? ******************* You seem a bit confused. When did I ever advocate cessation of all unemployment benefits? I merely asserted that the benefits need to be paid for and responsibly administered. Also, that there has to be some kind of limit to the benefits. They can't continue indefinitely..

December 03 2010 at 1:50 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
mdat

Soon-to-be-former-Speaker Pelosi's comments only serve to illustrate her total ignorance! Unemployment payments are an essential stop-gap to keep folks alive, but that's the extent!! For anyone with any business experience to even hint that unemployment benefits are job creators is ludicrous! If there was any validity to it, the best way to create jobs would be to fire EVERYBODY that has a job and have them all qualify for benefits...it's ridiculous and Pelosi should spend her declining years in a loony bin somewhere-she's earned it!!

December 03 2010 at 1:27 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
lo colon

Rob and Kathy: tell us how tax cuts for the rich are going to create jobs? Unemployment Benefits are spent immediately on necessities at the local level benefiting local merchants and forstalling collapse of local businesses. It is a true stimulus and a moral imperitive. Cut out these benefits, the immediate result will be an additional burden on state welfare budjets, food stamps, local homeless shelters, and charities at a time when state deficits are at a all time high, a good e.j. Texas is 29 Billion in the hole. What's the GOP solution: cut aid to the poor, cut school lunches, cut Social Security, raise medicare premiums on Seniors, and so on. Good ol' Reagonomics, uh?

December 03 2010 at 1:00 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

jjohnblack0123:18 AM Dec 3, 2010 Where do the two of you work? It seems that you two are on this blog 24 sevens spewing nonsense. Who ever said that this was meant to be a permanent solution? So like the previous poster said if you apply for a job and their are multiple people applying as well only one of them will get it. You people sit around all day on your high and mighty pedestal always looking down on people when it looks like you should be looking for a job yourself. Maybe if you can tear yourselves away from spewing nonsense on this blog you might actually find one yourself because you have way too much time on your hands. Have the two of you ever considered getting a hobby? ********************** Really, John. Your satirical hypocrisy is hilarious...

December 03 2010 at 12:40 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

jjohnblack0129:49 PM Dec 2, 2010 If you watch something other than Faux news you would know that the stimulus according to leading economist both conservative and moderate (which obviously the two of you are not) all agree that the stimulus created and saved 1 million jobs and averted a near depression caused by Bush 2 at the end of his failed presidency. Without this stimulus it is estimated that we would have ended up in a depression and nearly 800,000 more jobs would have been lost. ******************* First off, not all leading economists "all agree". Also, did you see the unemployment numbers reported today?

December 03 2010 at 11:01 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

dokes4856- Tell us, how is increased taxes on the wealthy going to create a job for you?...

December 02 2010 at 8:25 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

What happened to all the millions of jobs Obama's $800 billion "stimulus bill" was supposed to create?...

December 02 2010 at 8:04 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Michael

Unemployment compensation is a wage benefit, a bit of pay that is taxed away before the employee sees it. Increases in outlays for unemployment compensation eventually result in higher wage costs without any increase in employee take-home pay. This does not sound like the economic boon Pelosi describes: it is a recipe for longer unemployment durations and a less competitive America, driving even more jobs overseas.

December 02 2010 at 6:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
drslivingston

Dont you think if Americans were willing to work for 5.00 an hour again there would be plenty of corperations bring jobs back home? Instead of inflation we need deflation so people can survive on 5.00 an hour, but the current plan where everything gets more expensive every year will not work long term, eventually everything will imploded.

December 02 2010 at 5:52 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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