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Unemployment bill fails to beat filibuster, 59-37

The latest effort to pass an extension of unemployment benefits -- which was, at this point, a compromise of a compromise of a compromise of a compromise --failed in the Senate last night. By now, you know this story: It got 59 votes, with Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe voting with the Democrats, and though 59 percent of the votes is enough to win you a Senate election or the presidency, it's not enough to win a legislative victory in the U.S. Senate. (Procedural note: The final vote was 58 in favor, as Harry Reid switched so he could bring the bill back later.)

Compounding the irony is that, in the end, it was Robert Byrd's death that made the difference, and for all the vaunted courtesies of the upper chamber, not one Republican felt honor-bound to ensure that their friend's passage didn't mean that his voice, and the role it would have played in the final vote, was totally ignored.

It would be too simplistic to say that Republicans oppose extending unemployment benefits. Instead, they oppose adding to the total size of the government's stimulus spending. The Republican counterproposal was to fund the unemployment benefits by taking unspent funds -- though funds that have been promised to various priorities -- from the stimulus. In return for chopping up the stimulus, Democrats could've secured Scott Brown and George Voinovich. They didn't take the deal.

At issue here is what you do in the midst of a recession. The theory behind any stimulus -- a theory that Republicans have hewed to in the past -- is that you expand the size of the federal deficit in order to add fresh dollars and demand to the economy. Taking the money for a bridge that was to be built next month in order to fund unemployment benefits for next week is like bailing water from one part of the boat into another part. Republicans, conversely, have coalesced around a form of deficit-driven economics that they didn't hold to in the Bush years but have reconsidered now.

The pity, though, is that this dispute has gotten quieter and quieter, even as its results have become more and more dire. The vote last night means that 2 million Americans will lose their unemployment checks by July 12. But neither the New York Times nor The Washington Post are carrying it on their homepages above the fold.

As my unmarried partner Annie Lowrey points out, the nature of these benefits, which expire every few months and force a new round of votes and battles, has left everyone -- particularly the Senate exhausted by the subject. Promoting another story about another vote to extend another round of another jobless program blends into the background at this point. And that means that even if the Senate does manage to pass one more extension when they return in mid-July, it's likely to be the last of the extensions. The problem, of course, is that unemployment does not share their exhaustion.

By Ezra Klein  |  July 1, 2010; 9:06 AM ET
 
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Comments

For those of you who have lost your jobs since May 31, 2010 and are not eligible for the COBRA subsidy or have run out of COBRA coverage altogether, see cobrareform.weebly.com for alternatives.

Posted by: ReformCobraNow | July 1, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

For those of you who have lost your jobs since May 31, 2010 and are not eligible for the COBRA subsidy or have run out of COBRA coverage altogether, see cobrareform.weebly.com for alternatives.

Posted by: ReformCobraNow | July 1, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

For those of you who have lost your jobs since May 31, 2010 and are not eligible for the COBRA subsidy or have run out of COBRA coverage altogether, see cobrareform.weebly.com for alternatives.

Posted by: ReformCobraNow | July 1, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Republicans will do ANYTHING to help irresponsible corporations, but NOTHING to help the poor people harmed by those corporations!

They should change their name to the Wall Street Shill Party, because that's what they are.

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | July 1, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

When I think of Dodge and General Motors, I think of Republicans.

Posted by: Jenga918 | July 1, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

But Republicans do oppose unemployment benefits, and any other aid to citizens not of their class. This is like holy writ to them. And they oppose the stimulus and any other thing that might benefit the Democrats and Obama.
Older people like myself can remember both parties fighting like hell to shape the ultimate product and then fighting like hell to claim credit for it.
Now the Republicans only care about the next election and the country be damned. And are fully aware that if they gain control of some or all of Congress the opposition will do the same to them.
But,as they say on Wall Street, gridlock keeps the government from hurting them...

Posted by: ostrogoth | July 1, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Republicans tend to think that the reason people are unemployed is because they are lazy. See lol-lol's comment for an example.

But then they thought this recession was all in our heads too. Remember Phil Graham's comments? Remember Bush telling us that we didn't need to sacrifice after 9/11, we just needed to go shopping?

So the worst financial downturn in a century is caused by lazy Americans who won't shop and are just really bummed out.

Well yeah, we are bit bummed out, and no, we aren't shopping. But when you have no job you have no money so you can't shop and that tends to depress people.

I really don't understand how anyone can vote for Republicans. Well, I get why the Paris Hiltons of the world vote GOP, but that is about it.

Posted by: nisleib | July 1, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Have you suggested to management that the Post place somewhere on the front page a dashboard-like feature that tracks, for example, the number of days without action in the Senate on "important" measures, number of attempts at passage, or some other simply understood but telling metric(s)? Health-care, finance reform, extending unemployment benefits are obvious examples to track. With each graphic, key hold-outs could be identified.

Posted by: burtonentp | July 1, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Wall Street is the engine of our economy and now the Democrat wants to kneecap it. Watch out folks, if you take out Wall Street, we'll be coming for your jobs next.

We work harder and smarter and we don't whine about overtime or vacation pay.

If you don't know what's good for you, you really will be unemployed.

Posted by: lol-lol | July 1, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Only tangentially related to this post. However, I sincerely hope you don't run around introducing Annie to people as your 'unmarried partner.' "Hey, Matt, I'd like you to meet my unmarried partner, Annie."

Posted by: yo_bird | July 1, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Every person that is unemployed or cares about the unemployed should be signing this.

http://www.change.org/petitions/view/the_99ers_need_ a_tier_v_added_ to_unemployment _benefits

I am not one of the unemployed however see the need for Unemployment extensions… The fact that Congress cannot find other cuts is unacceptable; they always go after what is needed the most and save their pet projects and Wall Street friends.

Congress needs to be held accountable for the their failure to create a jobs bill and a jobs market. Extending Unemployment is not the answer however it what is needed now.
The Answer is to create jobs, which will take Congress placing higher taxes on any company that out sources jobs over seas, higher taxes on any funds leaving the US and higher tariffs on imports. Until then we have to pay out unemployment for the failure of our leaders.

Support unemployment here, it is one of Change.org highest all time petitions.
http://www.change.org/petitions/view/the_99ers_need_ a_tier_v_added_ to_unemployment _benefits

I am dropping this link everywhere to gain support for the unemployed. I am doing my part, are you?

Posted by: Tim_incubator | July 1, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

To govern is to choose:

Republicans would rather not fund unemployment benefits if it means adding to the deficit.

Democrats would rather not fund unemployment benefits if it means reallocating money from other stimulus projects.

In both cases, each party has a higher priority than the unemployed.

Regarding unemployment benefits discouraging work, I think Steve Pearlstein gets it about right from yesterday's chat:

"Steven Pearlstein writes:

This is just the right thing to do -- the burden of rebalancing our economy is falling disproportionately on the 15 percent of Americans who are unemployed and under-employed, so it is the duty of the rest of us to help them out. Now you can pay for that with borrowed money, in which case there is fiscal stimulus, or you can pay for it by taxing the rest of us a big higher, which involves no fiscal stimulus. But one way or the other, we need to do that.

I would say, however, that its not unreasonable to begin to reduce the monthly checks after a year. That may sound cruel. But there is a general tendency for people who are unemployed to refuse to consider taking jobs that pay less than they are used to, and it may be that they need a gentle nudge to do so. That's not to say that there aren't plenty of people who do take lower paying jobs. But there are also lots of people who are very reluctant to.
– June 30, 2010 1:03 PM "

http://live.washingtonpost.com/pearlstein-063010.html

My own suggestion would be to pay partial benefits for someone who takes a job that pays less than they used to receive for a period of time, say 1/2 the duration of what they would otherwise be entitled to if they were still unemployed. This would encourage people to take jobs immediately, even if they paid less and help them manage the transition.

Posted by: jnc4p | July 1, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

"Republicans, conversely, have coalesced around a form of deficit-driven economics that they didn't hold to in the Bush years but have reconsidered now."

I would change the second word to "perversely." Is there any doubt that if the Republican were still in power and needing an improving economy heading into an election, they would be scrambling to find 60 votes to extend unemployment benefits?

While the personal economy of millions of unemployed (myself included) is in severe recession, it's politics as usual. Is this what the Founders had in mind when they created a Senate?

Posted by: tomcammarata | July 1, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

So maybe we need to start email, and calls to the news media. Obviously, big brother over new media is a Republican.

Posted by: gkayepeters | July 1, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Burtonentp, that's a really great idea! Just have a series of upward ticking clocks which display how long it has been since Congress address issue X with legislation of any kind, excluding budgets and maybe other things I'm not thinking of. Sure, most would get reset every once in a while as Congress passed small bills that tweaked the problem, but other things like climate change would just go and go and go until,hopefully, it was enough to get people to put some pressure on Congress to pass a bill.

yo_bird, I usually find Ezra's references to Annie to be pretty funny, this one included.

Posted by: MosBen | July 1, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Republicans voted to spend 720 million a day on the war effort, decimating the budget surplus and saddling our kids with the debt. They rolled back oversight of the finacial industry and ditched regulation that kept watch over big oil, coal and other resources. Now they have the nerve to block unemployment benefits for families struggling to survive in this economy? They are fine with funding a perpetual war effort, but balk at helping average American people in their time of need. Give these guys what they deserve. VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE.

Posted by: taami | July 1, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

This bill would've passed if the Democrats didn't have to pretend for Obama that the stimulus bill is actually working and creating jobs. I live in CA with 12.4% unemployment, how's the stimulus working here?

And the Democrats seemed to find a way to pay for the portion of the bill that contained the homebuyer tax credit. Wait, they can pay for that but not unemployment extension? Maybe because the National Association of Realtors have the Democrats in their pocket. And Wall St and Fannie and Freddie benefit from more home sales.

I'm unemployed and this is a failure of both parties. This bill would've passed with just 10 billion taken from the stimulus. The Democrats said no and Americans suffer.

Posted by: louisp3 | July 1, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Even in the minority, Republicans are still controlling Congress. Frustrating in the extreme.

Posted by: slag | July 1, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

One wonders if the Democrats had actually spent some time and crafted the stimulus bill to promote jobs instead of payments to government unions. This Nation is going down hill fast because of Oblabla and this Administration. Instead of focusing on jobs, the economy and the oil crisis this fool is now blathering about immigration reform. How incompetent does Oblabla have to be to get to a point where we impeach him?

Posted by: Bubbette1 | July 1, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

@lollol: This is the face of the "unemployed", folks.

Anecdotes as proof is pretty weak tea. In fact, there are 5-10 people chasing every single job. "With increasing unemployment and a decreasing number of job openings, the ratio of unemployed persons per job opening has increased since 2006 from a series of low ratios ranging between 1.4 and 1.6 unemployed persons per job opening to a high of 6.2 unemployed persons per job opening in November 2009." --http://www.bls.gov/opub/ils/summary_10_03/job_availability.htm

"Mandatory Employment Act. Don't have a job? Go directly to jail." Ahhh...Debtors prison, work farms, debt peonage. I love 18th century solutions for 21st century problems. Because once you are in jail you are much more likely to get a job while imprisoned and if and with a criminal record when you get out, you employment chances improve radically./snark

"Wall Street is the engine of our economy "

Did you miss the financial meltdown, when the "engine" drove the economy off the cliff? I don't see naked derivative trading, investing in CDS and CDO, hyper fast computer arbitrage trading, and taking money at 0% from the discount window and buying treasury bonds at 3% as a very productive activity. How long do you think we can survive as a super power when 40% of gdp is basically rich people selling paper to each other?

Posted by: srw3 | July 1, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

@BB: One wonders if the Democrats had actually spent some time and crafted the stimulus bill to promote jobs instead of payments to government unions.

Good one! Lets get rid of those pesky fire and police people, teachers, road crews, maintainence workers and social service workers, that are needed more than ever since Bush drove the economy off the cliff. Taking their purchasing power out of the economy and swelling unemployment is a great way to stimulate growth.

"How incompetent does Oblabla have to be to get to a point where we impeach him?"

Wait a second, where were you with your impeachment talk based on incompetence when Bush, the most incompetent president since Hoover, was driving the economy into the ground, while completely mismanaging the Katrina debacle and 2 wars and exploding the deficit with tax cuts?

Posted by: srw3 | July 1, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

@BB: One wonders if the Democrats had actually spent some time and crafted the stimulus bill to promote jobs instead of payments to government unions.

You are exactly right. This thinking is actually in line with the great liberal economist Paul Krugman who has blasted the Obama stimulus and being ill conceived with money being prioritized to the wrong people.

Posted by: louisp3 | July 1, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

To Ezra:
Hey Braniac, so your plan is to jail all the unemployed right. Did you figure into your equation the $125.00 daily tab to jail those unemployed. Let's see 8 million plus unemployed... that would be 1 billion dollars per day... Add that to your national debt. Or maybe you have your head so far up your ... That you see one person not taking his job hunting seriously and you put us all in the same group. For your information i apply to 5 or 6 jobs per day. Over 3000 since 3/2009 and I've gotten 2 interviews. I'd take anything over $10.00 even though I was making $30.00. So why don't you shut up and keep making copies...

Posted by: Carli1108 | July 1, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

A few comments, the extension didn’t pass, good, we can’t afford it. Having said that readers should know I am a long tem unemployed person. Contrary to some politician’s views and posters hostile to the unemployed though I am not a drug user, not a slacker, and not dumb, and have actively pursued work.

I lost my 10 year old construction related business and with it everything I had worked for during a previously successful, productive, and financially rewarding career (well maybe that does make me dumb but then again no business operates in a vacuum and is always subject to risk and the impact of external events). Now while dealing with the trauma of the collapse of my world and the challenge of raising two young daughters and holding together a family in my new circumstances I look for work. As those of us who have been out there awhile know things really are tough. The media keeps trying to tell us things are improving and everything is going to be ok...I am not so sure. Even employers with jobs like dishwashers and forklift drivers, which in days gone by were pretty easy to get, now require very specific experience preventing entrance to those simply needing a paycheck. The fluidity between people and jobs is gone. If you are not an exact match to whatever the employer is looking for you won’t get the job.

So after a few false starts I am marginally employed, losing money every week and, for all practical purposes, still out of work and now, out of benefits. In a strange way though I am relieved, excited even, to be off the dole even though a probability of homelessness and hardship is very real. I am broke and without too many prospects at an age I thought I would be comfortably retired or at least semi-retired but at least I am independent of the government again and I like that. For those critical of the unemployed all I can say is yes there are probably some system abusers amongst us and it is true that free money makes it easy to be a sheeple but many of us are not the people you think we are. Someday you might have hardship and tragedy in your life and you might learn what it is to be human again. I know I have.

Posted by: walt12345 | July 1, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

********** Ok, you people need to stop generalizing. I was 20 y.o. and couldnt find work. I went to a trade school and got my manufacturing degree. I had an internship at a company making $12/hr ($500/wk). Never made a mistake or anything at work, and 1 month after my internship ended they fired me. I should have been bumped up to $20/hr. I was ripped off. They fired me for a reason that wasn't even true, but my state is a work at will state, and there were no other openings anywhere in the state, so the only thing I could do about it was file unemployment. I was accepted and went from $500 ($12/hr) on my internship, to $143/week ($3.57/hr)on unemployment. A month later the economy crashed. $143 has not paid my bills, and I now live out of my car. I have been looking for work for 2 years, with no luck. Unemployment barely did anything for me, and now even that little amount is gone. My unemployment ended in May, when I was told I had one more extension, so I didnt even have a chance to save up $100. I am 22 now, live out of my car, have no insurance, and nothing to live for. This last extension was my only chance to save up any money. Every place I apply to says im under-experienced, or they aren't hiring. How do you get experience if you never get hired? Republicans say that the extension will cost more money, that isn't the case. These 1.6 million people losing unemployment benefits, will be filling the Social Service offices, getting instantly put on Welfare, Food Stamps, Cash Assistance, and Medicaid. That is more than 5 times more money then if they would have still had unemployment. So don't let the republicans fool you with it being about the money, because even the people collecting unemployment pay taxes out of their check, so we ALL PAID FOR THE STIMULUS, which still has money leftover. If you aren't going to add an extension, then where the *&$@ are the jobs at? Construction is not a career or a job, it's basically a free form of an extension, it only lasts so long. With the war, this extension, the disagreement between politicians, this country has no hope. 1.6 million people are now without benefits, and a year from now our troops will start coming home. If you think the recession is rebounding, you are blind. It hasn't even started. Let the foreclosures, riots, murders, and robberies begin. And im not talking through a political view, im talking through the struggle I have gone through, before even turning 25. I don't do drugs, im a nice guy, and I help anyone I can at any opportunity, and no matter what, in the end, im here without anything. If the government cant agree on a solution, I JUST WANT MY TAXES BACK, so I can use them to move to a country that cares more about their citizens, and not the next election. Please, someone, anyone, DO SOMETHING!!!! **********

Posted by: warcityjet | July 1, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

@louisp3 : The democrats said no? REALLY? They mustered 59 yes votes. In a sane government, their policies would be being enacted right now. It is the Republicans that are saying no by insisting on a cloture vote BEFORE THE SENATE CAN EVEN CONSIDER THE BILL! The repiglicans have forced cloture votes ON EVERY MAJOR PIECE OF LEGISLATION FOR THE LAST 2 YEARS! HCR, finreg, energy, efca, the stimulus, etc. I guess complicated concepts like majority rule are lost on you. They have the right to oppose the bills by voting no ON THE SUBSTANTIVE BILLS, but insisting on 60 votes for every bill (repiglicans have more than doubled the number of cloture votes since the Dems took control of the senate) just grinds legislation to a halt. Their transparent strategy is to make the government as dysfunctional as possible and then blame the dems for not being able to govern, while they simultaneously preventing the dems from doing anything to fix the economy. The hypocrisy of repiglicans talking about fiscal responsibility after they exploded the deficit with tax cuts for the wealthy and unpaid for initiatives like 2 wars and medicare d, would be comical if it wasn't so pernicious. Repiglicans practiced the opposite of countercyclical spending, creating deficits when the economy was (marginally) better and refusing to spend when the economy is going off the cliff. And then blaming the dems. It boggles the mind.

Posted by: srw3 | July 1, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I would like to comment about the face of unemployment.Not all of us drawing unemployment made $90000 a year at the time of our unemployment. Some of us are single mothers laied off from apparel companies which have closed. Many have already used up TRA benefits which were provided to us for retraining for jobs. Many have done everything the government asked but are still unemployed. I am one such worker who was employed in the apparel industry for 36 years. I have been going to school since 2005, and have not found employment in the health care industry. This is the area I was told there would be jobs in when I graduated. I will be 59 in September, and I am drawing $107's a week plus a $25 a week stimulas check. I am also working as a substitue teacher part time to make my UI benefits last as long as I can. I amy be forced into early retirement, which means drawing social security, whick will cut my benefits by almost $250's a month.I am one face attached to the unempoyment delemma. When I a paid taxes all those years I worked, and never drew unemployment
those taxes went to help pay welfare and foodstamps for many people in need. Now I find myself in need of help I have to be degraded by being called lazy and good for nothing by those who know nothing about living an impovished life.The faces of the unemployed are people who hope to have enought to pay the electric bill each month
before it is cut off. They are people choosing the cheapest groceries they can to make their food stamps last to the end of the month.They are the elderly who are not quite disabled enough to qualify for disability, but no one will hire because they are not fast enough.They worry when there beat up cars breaks down because they don't have money to fix it, and they will no longer have a way to work which will disqualify them for UI benefits.If these are faces of the people on unemployment where are the ones who are no longer drawing UI benefits.

Posted by: raholden2004 | July 1, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

walt12345: "The media keeps trying to tell us things are improving and everything is going to be ok"

I haven't seen that. I've seen a lot of opinions covering the spectrum.

"the extension didn’t pass, good, we can’t afford it."

We could if we had our priorities right. And there's a good argument that we can't afford not to take on a little extra debt now to prevent this hole from getting even deeper (yes, we have to commit to paying it off when things are better). There is good debt and bad debt. To say "no debt" is way too simplistic.

Downward spiral, here we come?

Posted by: dasimon | July 1, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

@lp3: liberal economist Paul Krugman who has blasted the Obama stimulus and being ill conceived with money being prioritized to the wrong people.

What were Krugman's complaints?

The stimulus was 30-50% TOO SMALL.
The alternative minimum tax fix shouldn't have been included.
The stimulus in general had too much money devoted to tax cuts and not enough money for AID TO STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS and DIRECT GOVERNMENT EMPLOYMENT for infrastructure repair/improvements.

I would be happy to read any quotes from Krugman that support your contention that giving money to state and local governments so that they don't have to lay off (as many) workers, union or not, is not a good way to spend stimulus money. Just sayin'...

Posted by: srw3 | July 1, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

@srw3

Explain to me how the Democrats to find a way to pay for and fund the home buyer tax credit? Explain to me how people who can have the means to buy a home need a $17 billion dollar program that the Dems can pay for? Maybe because the NAR are big donors? This bill could've been passed, there's no doubt about that. Just $10 billion from the stimulus that worked so well we have 12.4% unemployment in CA.

Screw the Reps and the Dems.

Posted by: louisp3 | July 1, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Hey Lol-LOL I am 52 years old with numerous disabilities. Employers DISCRIMINATE, and why wouldn't they? My own GOVERNMENT discriminated against me, as I collected 26 weeks of unemployment and was SEGRAGATED among the punished. Maybe the poor oppressed Americans should ask for help from other countries. The mark of the beast is coming....

Posted by: dreamcatcherdv | July 1, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

@jnc4p, Though qualification numbers might changed a bit-- How employment benefits extensions are calculated and distributed have remanded the same for awhile recession after recession.
First Suggestion mentioned-People can work and retain a good portion of their benefits, Fact, people already do, it is pretty much status quo even when you are not talking extension or recession. Doesn't change much in way of extension benefits because of how they are calculated as so-
2) Lowering unemployed Paycheck because that is the right thing to do. The unemployed may not be motivated into taking a job. Steven Pearlstein is wrong for 2 reasons. First the most obvious, lack of knowledge in the system, when fed dollars are being use for UEBs people are audited for job searches. They are required to make x number of job searches and the state is responsible for checking them to ensure they are valid. Also and even more glaring is that the unemployed do take a cut in benefits the longer they stay on. (just for example) x% of the claim, then 2/3 x% to less then 1/2 x of their claim.
The second reason is that there is not much incentive to stay of UEB esp now so many not getting a dime at all. also included the fact theses people would already have a deducted claim. esp given the fact a 100% claim would yield a check almost the same as a min wage paycheck. and once again unless there are additional benefits beyond the scraped 25 dollars and I am simply not aware of-Extended ui is at the most 50% of a claim
People who believe that these people who have worked up until they lost their job in recent times all of sudden would endure and risk their families to homelessness and hunger are making a decision not coming to a conclusion. Then again some people are just jack-----.
PS. I did get the part you supported the passage in order to help the unemployed as do I.

Posted by: sansous | July 1, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I am a Military Veteran and since I left the Army I have not been able to find a job. I have always voted republican but 2010 will be a new year for me. The GOP has turned their back on the people of this country time after time, yet they bend over backward for the banks who got us into this mess.

lol-lol comment just shows how ignorant people are.

Posted by: ArmyVeteran | July 1, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Everyone, please, please, please go to -change.org at the following link to sign the petition to separate the UE extension from the rest of bill H.R. 4213! Also, have everyone you know go and sign it too! http://www.change.org/petitions/view/separate_the_unemployment_extension_legislation_from_the_rest_of_the_hr_4213_bill

Posted by: fighting2survive | July 1, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Call your Republican Senators and ask them how they can vote against all the suffering unemployed out there.

Call your Democratic Senators and ask them how they managed to completely offset the home-buyer tax credit ( a program that bribes people who are in obviously in good enough finances to buy a home ) but won't even budge a little to help people who obviously can't buy a home.

Posted by: louisp3 | July 1, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

ArmyVeteran; Dont be so quick to go over to the the dems because you are unsatisfied with the repubs. In my book one is just as bad the other. The federal government and the opportunity for corruption seems to be the source of much of our trouble. It is interesting to think about how We the People could dismantle the Federal Government and make government more local.

Posted by: walt12345 | July 1, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

And when would it stop? 150 weeks, 200 weeks? 5 years?

The fact is that there are jobs available but they pay less than the unemployment check, so many people refuse to take them (and they lie on the response questionnaire for the state unemployment dept).

Or people refuse to move to a different town or state where there are higher-paying jobs (and fewer folks competing for them).

Or people refuse to accept that their old profession is dead (e.g. mortgage underwriter) and refuse to re-train for another career.

If you can sit around and collect cash instead of settling for a job at Target, why not? It's much more pleasant to go to the bar til 2 a.m., smoke a few packs, and dream of your old $70K/year 2004 loan officer job, than to move to North Dakota or Nebraska. Unemployment rates are below 5% in those states.

We need to cut off these benefits before they become just another welfare check. Personal responsibility. After 99 weeks of free checks, the problem is you, not the economy.

Posted by: coakl | July 1, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"It would be too simplistic to say that Republicans oppose extending unemployment benefits. Instead, they oppose adding to the total size of the government's stimulus spending."

Actually, I think they're experimenting with the idea that they can effectively obstruct popular legislation and, via some lame excused ("deficit bad!") blame the failure to give people unemployment extensions on the Democrats.

I think it's a purely political strategy.

@lol-lol: "There was a guy at my Kinko's the other day making copies of his resume. He was telling me he'd been turning down jobs because they wouldn't pay him the 90K he was making before so it was better for him to keep receive welfare from the government."

I've known people like, and it mystifies me, but it's not about the unemployment, which is a fraction of their previous salary, or the salaries they could be making if they just took an interim job. It's about that previous salary. Even if they cannot possibly ever make that money again without mastering a new position at another company, or getting a lot more education, or if positions in that industry that pay that much are just gone . . . they refuse to take good jobs, because it won't pay them as much. I've seen that several times. And it's ego, not unemployment benefits. Because that attitude would persist well past the end date of their unemployment checks.

When I was unemployed, the first job that was marginally relevant to graphic design, database development, web development, etc--I'd take that job. And other opportunities shortly came along.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | July 1, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

ArmyVeteran, props to your service. However . . .

"The GOP has turned their back on the people of this country time after time, yet they bend over backward for the banks who got us into this mess."

Vote 'em out, by all means, but the Democrats bend just about as far, and also put on that perfume the fat-cat bankers like so much, plus have been known to get a little freaky, if you know what I mean.

They may argue a lot (especially in public), but those folks are all members of the same fraternity.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | July 1, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

@LP3: Explain to me how the Democrats to find a way to pay for and fund the home buyer tax credit? Explain to me how people who can have the means to buy a home need a $17 billion dollar program that the Dems can pay for?

Well, I believe that was a sweetener to try to get some REPUBLICAN and conservadem votes that they didn't get in the end. I didn't support the homebuyer tax credit personally, but it did temporarily stop the downward spiral of real estate values.

Taking tarp money to extend unemployment benefits doesn't add money to the economy, it just takes money from future projects and spends it now. I will try to say it slowly this time. Counter cyclical spending is what the economy needs when demand is low during a recession even if it causes deficit spending. The government can borrow now at historically low interest rates now, so why not get the time value of that money now and get the demand side of the economy off its death bed. The time for reducing the deficit is when the economy is growing, like during the 2000-2006 Bush years when republicans controlled all three branches of govt, but somehow all of you deficit hawks were totally silent as the deficits exploded under Bush.

I am all for repealing the mortgage interest deduction, increasing the standard deduction a bit and using the rest of the money to fund unemployment extensions. There are lots of things to criticize the Obama administration around the stimulus package, but it did pass and it did move unemployment down 2.5% over a no stimulus scenario (see Moody's and IHS/Global insight for references). All of your criticisms of the stimulus are pretty hollow given how republicans made it much less effective by INSISTING ON CLOTURE. This forced the dems to MAKE THE STIMULUS LESS EFFECTIVE, in order to court the "moderates" Snowe, Collins, etc.

BTW, the conservadems are just as bad as the repubs, but they would have much less power if the REPUBLICANS WEREN'T INSISTING ON CLOTURE VOTES FOR EVERY SUBSTANTIVE BILL.

Posted by: srw3 | July 1, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

lol-lol you really are an arse!

Posted by: electricman18943 | July 1, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

STOP BICKERING ABOUT WHO TO BLAME! WE ARE ACTING JUST LIKE THEM! ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS TO REQUEST AN EXECUTIVE ORDER FROM OBAMA. END OF THE STORY! THEY CAN"T GET AWAY WITH IT! No more playing around, and clowning arround. Lets forget about these senile jerks and demand action from Obama. He is the chief in charge. STOP complaining! We know you are hurting and so am I. But my bickering and acting childest will not solved or help pass the freaking bill! Lets just join forces and beat these Seniles Senators.

Posted by: princessdaugther66 | July 1, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

"The fact is that there are jobs available but they pay less than the unemployment check, so many people refuse to take them (and they lie on the response questionnaire for the state unemployment dept)."

Yes, there are always a few jobs available, and they all get filled, and many unemployed people remain left over.

The simple fact is that there are far, far more applicants than available positions. Some of you (including Sharron Angle) just can't seem to count and do the basic math.

Grow up. The crisis in employment has nothing to do with benefits causing moral hazard, or with greedy or lazy jobless persons. It has to do with massive job losses that have occurred during the recession.

Posted by: Patrick_M | July 1, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I came to New York City with nothing other than my Ivy League education and the trust fund my parents set up for me.

If I can pull myself up by my bootstraps and get a high-paying job through my Harvard business school connections, anyone can.

Let's face it, most people like being poor, that's why they're that way.

Now excuse me, I have to be at the gym in 26 minutes.

Posted by: lol-lol | July 1, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

@lol-lol: "If I can pull myself up by my bootstraps and get a high-paying job through my Harvard business school connections, anyone can."

Not true. I tried getting a high-paying job through your Harvard business school connections, and it didn't work.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | July 1, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

@coak1:The fact is that there are jobs available but they pay less than the unemployment check, so many people refuse to take them (and they lie on the response questionnaire for the state unemployment dept).

Let's ignore the fact that there are 6+ unemployed people for every job in the US and that doesn't count discouraged workers. So even if every job in the US was filled there would still be the other 5+ out of six people that would be unemployed...

Those jobs would have to be below the minimum wage to pay less than the average state unemployment benefit.

The average unemployment check in the U.S. is $293.
The amounts vary dramatically, though, from a maximum of $230 in Mississippi to $628 in Massachusetts. But some relatively high-income states pay very little.--http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/LearnToBudget/how-much-jobless-pay-would-you-get.aspx

The average yearly payout for unemployment benefits before taxes is $15,236 which is $676 less than a job paying $7 per hour and $1400 less than a job paying $8 per hour.

So taking a minimum wage job on average, pays more than unemployment compensation. I would like to see you support yourself not to mention a family on $16k per year.

Posted by: srw3 | July 1, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Tent City, Here We Come!

Look up Hibiya Park, Japan.

You'll see what a deficient welfare system is going to bring us in the very near future.

Posted by: Gates9 | July 1, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

LOL, just when I thought you were without humor you surprise me! Now excuse me I just found out the doughnut shop down the street is looking for help and the best news... no Internet applications they want you to come down and talk to a real person! Hot diggity dog things are looking up. Wish me luck.

PS I hope you have a GREAT workout.

Posted by: walt12345 | July 1, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

THIS STORY IS WRONG.

1) The vote was technically 58-38 -- Reid voted 'no' at the last minute to leave open the possibility of re-introduction.

2) THERE IS A SENATE VOTE TONIGHT AT 5:30. They have not definitely gone for the weekend... yet. This is via Sen. Stabenow's office, whom I called to confirm this detail this morning.

Posted by: Demeralda | July 1, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

12.4% unemployment in CA. The stimulus is working so well that $10 billion couldn't be taken?

Posted by: louisp3 | July 1, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

How many times are they going to be renewed? We pay unemployment so people can find a new job. I think we all know, even Biden said as such, they aren't coming back. They were based on a false housing economy. It's time to call a spade a spade. Instead of focusing on a WPA style of infrastructure program or massive retraining effort to be eligible for such benefits, we've spent that time fighting over healthcare instead of like a laser on job creation.

Posted by: Jenga918 | July 1, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

"Grow up. The crisis in employment has nothing to do with benefits causing moral hazard, or with greedy or lazy jobless persons. It has to do with massive job losses that have occurred during the recession."

If your point is that there would be/have been an unemployment crisis with or without the benefit extensions, fine.

If you are saying that current unemployment numbers are not heavily affected by the benefit extension policies, facts, statistics and reality would like to have words with you.

Posted by: eggnogfool | July 1, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

"If your point is that there would be/have been an unemployment crisis with or without the benefit extensions, fine."

No, eggnogfool, my point is that there are not available jobs going unfilled because unemployed workers won't accept them.

My point is that we have high unemployment because there are 9.5 applicants for each available job, not because people prefer collecting UI benefits to accepting low paying or unpleasant work.

Posted by: Patrick_M | July 1, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I'd also like to put a face to the unemployed. I've had a job since I was 16 years old. Never received any type of public assistance. I worked hard in school to get my diploma, worked five years in my chosen field, and was laid off last year. Within a month of receiving my unemployment benefits, I moved back home with my parents and got a part-time job at a horrible, high-turnover company in order to stretch my UEI. Don't make the mistake of thinking that we're all lazy and want a free ride. The UEI paid for food, electricity, gas, etc...now that's gone, and I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't want a handout. I want a job, but I've put in over 200 applications and haven't gotten a single interview. All I hear every week is that I'm either over qualified or lack experience. Every job retraining program I've inquired about either dried up or won't take me b/c I already have a four year degree (much good it has done me). I'm in the process of cashing out my retirement fund at an enormous penalty just to survive, but even with strict budgeting, it won't last forever. I'm terrified.


Posted by: unchienne | July 1, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

It is hard for me to think any full time job would pay less then my $107 a week UI benefit. Now after reading all these comments I find I can look forward to attaining another degree after a year in a half of racking my brains studing school books, and still not find someone to hire me.At least I can pay off my student loans with my social security check. At least I hope it will still be there in 3 years. I don't think they can ship it overseas.

Posted by: raholden2004 | July 1, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

"No, eggnogfool, my point is that there are not available jobs going unfilled because unemployed workers won't accept them.

My point is that we have high unemployment because there are 9.5 applicants for each available job, not because people prefer collecting UI benefits to accepting low paying or unpleasant work."

Well that's tripe as an argument.

First, the stat generally cited is 5 potential applicants for every job opening. Google fails to find any instance of anyone citing 9.5.

Second, the denominator in that equation is obviously wrong/irrelevant; there are far more 'hires' each month than there are reported job openings.

Third, the numerator in that fraction is the subject of the disagreement: your argument boils down to "this number is large, therefore it is not inflated".

Posted by: eggnogfool | July 1, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Again, eggnogfool, my point is that there are not available jobs going unfilled because unemployed workers won't accept them.

You can quibble over 5 openings per unemployed worker or 9.5 on your google search, the point again is that the argument to which I was responding (that there is plenty of work to be found, meaning that the number of available jobs is sufficient, and that people are not making applications due to their continuing benefits) is specious.

Posted by: Patrick_M | July 1, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

they approve the housing credit and extend it, hmmm lets see , people losing their house, medical and food............. but lets extend that credit to the ones that can buy a house. ????????

Posted by: DianeM2 | July 1, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

"You can quibble over 5 openings per unemployed worker or 9.5 on your google search, the point again is that the argument to which I was responding (that there is plenty of work to be found, meaning that the number of available jobs is sufficient, and that people are not making applications due to their continuing benefits) is specious."

Nobody said there is "plenty of work to be found".

There are jobs. Not a ton, and they aren't great, but the situation is rapidly improving (or has been, we'll learn a lot tomorrow morning).

Living off 35% of your former salary is pretty awful. But taking a 70% pay cut is worse. It's not "lazy" or "greedy" to make rational economic decisions for the benefit of your family.

Ease up on the straw men, they can't take much more.

Posted by: eggnogfool | July 1, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

"There are jobs. Not a ton, and they aren't great, but the situation is rapidly improving (or has been, we'll learn a lot tomorrow morning)."

Yes, the rate of job loss has been reversed and we have had a bit of modest job creation, which barely offsets population change. That does not mean that there has been any significant improvement in the rate of unemployment, or that available jobs go unfilled, due to a lack of qualified applicants, while qualified individuals instead accept benefits.

"Living off 35% of your former salary is pretty awful. But taking a 70% pay cut is worse. It's not "lazy" or "greedy" to make rational economic decisions for the benefit of your family."

Duh. Nor does it mean that if you cut off the benefit and force that person to accept that position (thereby denying the position to someone else) that the rate of unemployment changes.

It is a game of musical chairs: a certain number of openings, and a certain (larger) number of job seekers. You can argue that ending the benefit forces a recipient to lower their sights as the deadline looms, but even if one accepts that proposition, it just mean he or she is prolonging the unemployment of someone else as the spot is filled. It does not change the overall outlook.

Until more jobs are created, the number of unemployed will not decrease, whether you allow them to collect extended benefits or not.

Posted by: Patrick_M | July 1, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I feel as if I am in the Twilight Zone. I know my circumstances and those of many of my friends and former coworkers. That members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, can ignore the reality that is life for millions of Americans is unconscionable. Playing politics with our lives is cruel and unforgivable.

For those of you who believe the unemployed are somehow lazy and to blame for their current circumstances, I can only hope you find yourself unemployed someday soon. Go get a cup of coffee and wake up!

Posted by: pulliamp | July 1, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

@enf: Living off 35% of your former salary is pretty awful. But taking a 70% pay cut is worse. It's not "lazy" or "greedy" to make rational economic decisions for the benefit of your family.

Well that assumes that unemployment benefits are larger than the potential jobs available.

As I stated on another thread, the average UC is $293. That is less than a 40 hr/week job that pays $7 per hour. How does taking in less money constitute a benefit to your family?

Posted by: srw3 | July 1, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

coakl: "The fact is that there are jobs available but they pay less than the unemployment check, so many people refuse to take them"

In addition to the above posts showing that even minimum wage jobs pay more than unemployment benefits, there is also the Earned Income Tax Credit which would make that difference even larger. The EITC was a conservative proposal to make sure that working even at low pay would be more desirable than collecting unemployment checks. http://www.slate.com/id/2083932

Posted by: dasimon | July 1, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

eggnog fools says:

"First, the stat generally cited is 5 potential applicants for every job opening. Google fails to find any instance of anyone citing 9.5."

Just to follow up...your googling number counts the "officially" unemployed (U3 index).

But if you also include the 14.5 million unofficially unemployed (U6 index), who shall re-enter the search immediately upon their perception that the prospects of success are less daunting, the ratio of the actual unemployed to available jobs is 9.5 to 1.

Posted by: Patrick_M | July 1, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

My sentiments exactly! Why isn't this on the front pages of the news? I have searched high and low on the internet for news on the unemployment extensions! It seems we have been forgotten about! While half of America will be out celebrating the holiday this weekend the other half can't even afford to have a family picnic at their own home!! By the time the senate comes back from THEIR VACATION, how many more homes will be lost? How many more people will be laid off? How many more landlords will have kicked families out in the streets? How many landlords will have lost their rental homes which is their only source of income? How many cases of depression will there be? You can put me at the top of the list for that one!!!
It may be only one week or so, but watch how fast this economy gets worse by the time the "spoiled" get back from their "furlough"! Meanwhile I will be sitting here with my stomach growling; stressing out, just how many days the judge is going to give me before I am completely evicted to find a place to live for FREE! Maybe I should pack my kids and sleep on the porch of these senators until something is done! I didn't ask for this! Nobody asks for this!! You too could come back after the holiday and find out you don't have a job either!

Why isn't President Obama steppin up?????

Why isn't this the front page news on every newspaper, magazine and television station? We need to do something to be heard more!!!!!
Freedom what????

Posted by: jjy1966 | July 1, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Come on Ezra, you know why this story is not being carried by the media:

- it would require the media to criticize Republicans and the Blue Dogs,

- it would force an evaluation of the real world impacts that this insane conservative push for "fiscal austerity" is having on average folks

- it would highlight the hypocrisy of the Republicans and Blue Dogs who had no concerns about deficits when they provided $1.2 trillion in tax cuts to rich people like Paris Hilton, spent $1 trillion on an unecessary war in Iraq, and gave $700 billion to the banksters that drove our economy into the ditch.

President Obama and liberal Democrats should be talking about this issue every day until the election. One side is trying to help our economy by providing aid to those who are unemployed and by helping to ensure that states do not have to lay off teachers, police officers, and fire fighters. The Republicans and the Blue Dogs, however, are fighting those common sense efforts every step of the way.

Posted by: ShannoF | July 1, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone read the top ten wasted spending projects posted in Business & Finance? One of the top is radoactive rabbit poop, and the sexual habbits of co-eds. Lets not forget the $700 million wall-street bailout, the $1 trillion war in Irag, and tax cuts for the rich that that ShannoF pointed out. All of these and more are being financed on the backs of the hardworking american tax payer and their future children. If the unemployed taxpayers need a bailout until the economy picks up why shouldn't they have one.Has it come to the place in America that people are less important then rabbit poop? Many of us have already earned bailouts, and we didn't do it by working out in a jym,or robbing elderly investors of their savings, like wall street. We did it through blood, sweat, tears, torn ligamnets, bent backs, worn out shoulders, and arthritic hands shoving parts down assembly lines, and producing products at speeds unheard of for half are lifespans. According to the consitution of the United States it is a governmnet of the people, by the people, and for the people. Even the unemployed pays taxes and votes.

Posted by: raholden2004 | July 2, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

We have jobs. Plenty of them. They went overseas, and some of us had to train our replacements.

Better yet, enact legislation to prevent the wholesale slaughter of the US workforce which has been done in by offshoring, directly and indirectly. I've lost three jobs in eleven years to dot.com crashes and offshoring. How can people like me plan for our families and our futures if the government sworn to protect us allows us to be devastated by offshoring? Whatever happened to "jobs in Buffalo not jobs in Bangalore"? Why should our local and state tax subsidies to large corporations be used to create more jobs offshoring?

Insult to Injury, and now the government can't get its act together long enough to help those they let fall victim to gross government negligence and corporate greed.

Posted by: bev4 | July 4, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

You cant even live in a "tent city" now. Thats a sham too. Anything goes in modern day America, who ever thought retired major leauge pitcher Jim Bunning would decide the fate of millions???madness.
Ive got a bad feeling, we aint seen nothing yet....

Posted by: bluedntatooed | July 6, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

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