House says 'humbug' to the jobless
Try to explain to the more than 5 million unemployed Americans that the Great Recession ended a year ago and better times are ahead. Then try to explain to 2 million of them that their jobless benefits will expire in a few short days, during the ...
Try to explain to the more than 5 million unemployed Americans that the Great Recession ended a year ago and better times are ahead. Then try to explain to 2 million of them that their jobless benefits will expire in a few short days, during the holiday season. Merry Christmas.
After the Nov, 2 election, Congress is back for a lame-duck session with a lot on its plate before turning the reins over to Republicans in January. Nonetheless of these should be extending jobless benefits for 2 million Americans who lost their jobs through no fault of their own other than being a victim of the Great Recession.
Instead, it seems Congress would rather focus its attention on extending tax cuts to America's most wealthy. Rest assured, the loss of those tax cuts won't find any of the wealthy standing in any unemployment line.
There are about 5 million people now collecting unemployment compensation, averaging about $310 a week for those out of work six months or more. Congress extended jobless benefits this summer, but not without some prodding. That extension now expires Dec. 1, and an attempt was made in the House on Thursday to extend them again. Needing a two-thirds majority to pass, the measure actually won majority support but not two-thirds support in a 258-154 vote that saw 11 moderate-to-conservative Democrats opposing the extension, including Rep. Collin Peterson, DFL-7th District.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., pledges to bring the matter back sometime after Thanksgiving as an emergency measure to extend benefits at least through the holidays, and hopefully this time it will have the needed two-thirds majority support. The Senate hopes to roll its effort into year-end negotiations over the tax cut extension and other year-end legislation, leaving the jobless exposed for several weeks through the holidays.
Republican opposition, and we would understand Rep. Peterson's opposition as well, centers around the cost. It costs $12.5 billion for three months, and opponents would want cuts elsewhere first. That could be possible, and should be pursued if it means allowing a positive vote to extend jobless benefits.
What really would not make sense is a Congress fighting to keep tax cuts for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and couples making more than $250,000 a year while turning their backs on the jobless, the real victims of the Great Recession. And during the holidays to boot.
Humbug! That's the last thing Republicans want framing their public image when they take over the House and make inroads in the Senate after the first of the year.
-- Bemidji Pioneer