Politics June 28, 2014: House introduces first bipartisan unemployment extension bill pressures Boehner

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House introduces first bipartisan unemployment extension bill pressures Boehner

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, June 28, 2014, 7:29 PM MST

Eight Representatives introduced the first bipartisan unemployment benefits extension bill in the House as a companion to the Senate bill, June 25, 2014; they hope it will press Speaker of the House John Boehner to put the UI extension to a vote
Eight Representatives introduced the first bipartisan unemployment benefits extension bill in the House as a companion to the Senate bill, June 25, 2014; they hope it will press Speaker of the House John Boehner to put the UI extension to a vote
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Politics June 27, 2014: Obama needs to insist that GOP House pass the unemployment benefits extension

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Obama needs to insist that GOP House pass the unemployment benefits extension

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, June 27, 2014, 7:17 PM MST

President Barack Obama has not tried enough to ensure the passage of the unemployment benefits extension; Obama casually attacks the GOP in a Minnesota speech for not passing the bill, June 27, 2014
President Barack Obama has not tried enough to ensure the passage of the unemployment benefits extension; Obama casually attacks the GOP in a Minnesota speech for not passing the bill, June 27, 2014
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Politics June 26, 2014: Democrat Harkin prevented unemployment extension passing with jobs training bill

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Democrat Harkin prevented unemployment extension passing with jobs training bill

 

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, June 26, 2014, 12:36 AM MST

 

 

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-IA refused to allow the unemployment benefits extension bill to be added as an ammendment to the Senate jobs training bill because he was afriad it would "screw up" the bill's passage, June 24, 2014
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-IA refused to allow the unemployment benefits extension bill to be added as an ammendment to the Senate jobs training bill because he was afriad it would “screw up” the bill’s passage, June 24, 2014
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Politics June 25, 2014: Heller and Reed unveil new unemployment extension bill excludes retro payments

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Heller and Reed unveil new unemployment extension bill excludes retro payments

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, June 25, 2014, 3:19 PM MST

Senators Jack Reed, D-RI and Dean Heller, R-NV introduce in a joint press conferene a new unemployment benefits extension bill, June 24, 2014; they are hoping this bill willl restore benefits to the 3.1 million who have lost benefits since December 2013

Office of Senator Jack Reed, D-RI

New hope for the over three million long-term jobless Americans was unveiled in the form of a new unemployment benefits extension bill introduced by Senators Jack Reed, D-RI and Dean Heller, R-NV in a joint press conference on Tuesday morning, June 24, 2014, in the Capitol building. The bill is a much more parsed down version than the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2014 that passed the Senate on April 7, and languished in the House of Representative committee stage, before expiring on May 31, 2014. There is one catch for the new bill will not include retroactive payments, therefore some long-term employed could lose up to six months of payments if they lost them when the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program expired on Dec. 28, 2013 and are still unemployed.

The bipartisan duo which have been working to secure legislation to extends the EUC program since December 2013, are united in fighting for the long-term unemployed in their states, Rhode Island and Nevada. Both their states have the highest number of long-term jobless in the country. Senator Reed in introducing the new legislation urged Congress to pass their new attempt to extend unemployment benefits and he explained that doing everything to help Americans get back to work is important to stabilizing the economy and creating jobs.

Reed believes extending benefits is key to this goal; “We need to get our country back to full employment — to a place where all Americans have an opportunity to earn a living and build a better life for their families. Restoring unemployment insurance is the decent thing to do, and it is a smart step that will provide some much needed stability and predictability to the long-term unemployed as well as to local businesses and our economy as a whole. That is why Senator Heller and I continue working on bipartisan solutions that will help job seekers. I appreciate Senator Heller’s steadfast leadership and commitment to helping more people who’ve been out of work return to the labor force.”

While Heller emphasized the problems his long-term unemployed constituents in Nevada are facing without the extension and he believes this new bill should satisfy the House GOP leadership’s demands as well as Democratic supporters. Heller recounted; “This year has been extremely difficult for Nevadans who still do not know how they are going to pay their bills or feed their families. Senator Reed and I have gone back to the drawing board, and put together a new proposal that I hope both chambers of Congress can debate and vote on. This new bill allows for job-seeking Americans to collect these important benefits moving forward, and pays for them as well. I am grateful to Senator Reed for his continued partnership on this important issue. His input and his friendship have been invaluable over the past many months.”

Senators Reed and Heller’s new stand-alone bill attempts to comply more with Speaker of the House John Boehner’s, R-OH demands. The bill will have a five-month extension, lasting approximately until the end of 2014. The new bill will cost a total of $10 billion and will be paid for by revenue, including “pension smoothing” and “extending Customs user fees through 2024” as was the last bill. One of the major benefits of the new bill is that unlike the previous one there is no deadline; Congress can always choose to pass it, preferably sooner rather than later.

The bill includes additional provisions, including excluding Americans who have earned $1 million and over the previous year. Those receiving benefits would also be allowed to have access “enhanced, personalized assessments and referrals to reemployment services” to help them in the efforts to find employment, a task that is far more difficult for the long-term unemployed since they face discrimination. They will able to received those services at “27th week of UI (Tier I)” and then again at the “55th week of UI (Tier III).”

The new bill however, would not be retroactive, because rates have been falling even slightly, and it was also a roadblock to passing the bill the last time. Boehner believed the states have not been keeping track of eligibility, since the deal was reached months after the EUC program expired. Heller stated at the press conference the reasoning behind the decision to omit this element from the bill; “In the environment we have here today, we wouldn’t be able to pass retroactive unemployment extension.” Meanwhile Reed thinks that “All of these excuses – not reasons, but excuses – foiled our plan. So we’re beginning again.”

Although there will not be a retroactive element, those who were eligible when the EUC program expired and did not go back to work, will be allowed to collect the remaining weeks of benefits they were set to receive when the new bill would be signed into law. Reed and Heller announced; “The new Reed-Heller bill provides prospective emergency benefits and allows eligible job seekers who were cut off on December 28 to pick up where they left off in the UI claims process.” Sen. Reed’s spokesman Chip Unruh explained to CBS News how that will work; “If you were eligible for three more weeks…you would be able to collect those three weeks.”

The new bill does not include that almighty job creation element, which was the main roadblock for the first Senate passed bill. It was not possible for the Senate to add job creation measures to the bill. Heller previously stated that adding job creation elements is something the House would have to do. Then the two bills can be resolved in conference negotiations with the Senate. The first Reed-Heller bill also did not include job creation measures. After the bill was passed and transferred to the House, Boehner had unsuccessfully lobbied that the White House provide him a list of acceptable job creating provisions to the now defunct bill. Job creation provisions were a key demand from the speaker in order to put the bill to a House vote. Senate leadership or the White House were not willing to allow Boehner to add any provisions that were appealing to the House Republicans, any suggestions given were part of Obama and Democrats agenda. Heller is an agreement with Boehner that the White House provide provisions that are acceptable for the GOP House to move along the bill.

The fact that the bill still does not include job creation provisions might mean it could result in the same fate in the House as the previous Reed-Heller bill. Senator Heller expressed however; “It’s the best we can do under the circumstances,” even though he wished the bill could had all the elements of the original bill. Heller also understands the reluctance Republicans have for the bill. The bill is a “water downed” version was supposed to appeal to Republican demands however; Speaker was not “impressed.” Speaker Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel commented after the press conference unveiling; “The speaker laid out the criteria before Christmas: We will take a look at any plan that is fiscally-responsible, and does something to help create private-sector jobs.”

Although earlier in the month Senate Majority Harry Reid, D-NV promised to bring the new bill to a vote, stating; “Anytime Sen. Heller makes a little progress on this we’ll bring it back. Because people are just as desperate today as they were two months ago” it is still not listed for a vote date. Reid was pleased with the new bill “applauding” the senator efforts “to keep the issue alive.” Speaking at the Democratic Senate Leadership weekly news conference Reid criticized the House Republicans for not acting on the issue; “We need to get some movement in the House. We’ve already passed an unemployment extension over here and the House, in their typical fashion, has done nothing.”

Senator Reed is uncertain when the bill will reach the Senate floor for a vote, explaining; “This is a very crowded agenda for the rest of the year. We are not giving up. We are going to use the same all-out full court press all the time. If there is an opening and we can bring the bill to the floor and we’ve got the votes we are going to urge the leader to do that.” Senator Heller never expected that it take so long to extend the EUC program when he and Reed first began collaborating for it s renewal over six months ago. Heller said; “What I was hoping would be a sprint has become a marathon.”

There are some additional hurdles to having the new bill passed. First House Republicans, if they would demonstrate an interest in passing the bill, by acting on the old bill with modifications, it would improve the chances of Senate Republicans again voting for the extension. Of the original Republican co-sponsors “Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Rob Portman of Ohio,” Kirk is displaying reluctance to support the new bill.

If there was chance that the new House leadership would be any more lax and supportive passing the extension, it is not and is standing even more behind Boehner. Heller spoke with his friend from the House Majority-Leader-elect Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, who is just as insistent as the speaker that job creating provisions need to be included to pass any EUC extending legislation. Heller is in the process of ongoing negotiations with the new House leader and recounted McCarthy’s position; “His message was very clear. It was very similar to Boehner’s-very similar to Boehner’s-and that is, ‘We want job provisions.'”

President Barack Obama’s obstinance and refusal to get involved in the negotiation process has been also a major roadblock, especially in rallying the Speaker and House Republicans. Heller believes “If we are going to make progress … he needs to be more engaged and I’ll continue to say that. He needs to pick up the phone and call the speaker and say, ‘Hey, how are we going to get this done.'” Heller is working every angle possible to beat the odds and ensure the bill passes preferably before the August recess. Heller is working with Majority Leader Reid to schedule the debate and vote, he is garnering votes from Senate Republicans particularly the old co-sponsors who helped the bill pass the last time, and he is negotiating with the House Republican leadership to ensure the bill gets scheduled as well in the House once it passes the Senate.

Heller and Reed’s cooperation is the bipartisan model Congress should strive for, but Reed still blames the House Republicans for not passing their first unemployment benefits extension bill, and the opposition early on to their new bill, and the roadblocks they will place to prevent its passage or even a vote on it. Reed expressed that “There are lots of our colleagues in Congress who don’t want to act, and we’ve heard lots of excuses.”

Senator Reed fought back against the Republicans favorite argument against extending the EUC program that the unemployment situation is getting better. Reed said although number are improving for the short term unemployed, the long-term unemployed are facing the brunt if the problems. Although the total unemployment rate keeps falling each month, the long-term jobless rate in May remains high at 3.4 million, 34.6 percent or a third of all unemployed Americans, just slightly lower than in April. Older workers, women and younger workers with in service and blue collar jobs with only a high school diploma are the most affected. The EUC program usually has been renewed as long as the long-term jobless rate is above 1.3 percent. Reed explained; “We are seeing the overall unemployment numbers come down, but long-term unemployment is stuck pretty much where it’s been for the last year.”

Presently over 3.1 million long-term jobless Americans have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks, they need the benefits to survive, and each week around 72,000 keep losing benefits. That number is more than double the original 1.3 million that were affected when the bill first expired on Dec. 28, 2013. In total over 10 million Americans are still unemployed from the Great Recession and its aftermath. Sen. Heller worries the most about living in the western states, expressing “I’m concerned going into the summer months,” because of the rising gas prices increasing cost of living and making it more difficult for the long-term jobless on their job hunt.

Despite opposition from Republicans, Democrats in both the House and Senate staunchly support extending unemployment benefits. Rep. Sander Levin, D-MI, the Ranking Member of Ways and Means Committee who has launched “Witness Wednesdays” commended the new bill in a statement. Levin wrote; “The bipartisan bill introduced today in the Senate answers Speaker Boehner’s demands that any extension of unemployment benefits be paid for and be provided only on a prospective basis. The bill could be easily combined with upcoming legislation to fund transportation improvements or to extend tax breaks to meet the Speaker’s final demand that any UI extension be part of larger legislation that will create jobs. The time for excuses is long over. Three million Americans – including nearly 300,000 veterans – have now lost their unemployment benefits because of Republican obstructionism. We must act now.”

Witness Wednesdays is being held each Wednesday in June and July at lunch time, 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. on the Capital steps where “members of Congress and faith, labor, civil rights, and nonprofit leaders” read personal stories submitted to the Democrats’ Ways and Means Committee website of those suffering from losing their unemployment benefits. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) Schakowsky, who has been involved in those weekly sessions expressed that “There is a commitment from the Democrats in the House to not let this fall off of the table.” Continuing Schakowsky explained; “This is about families and the stories are devastating.” Senators Heller and Reed understand the hardships the families are facing and Heller promised Americans “We’re not giving up.”

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Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian & Israeli politics, with a particular focus on the Obama presidency, Congress, domestic policy, and elections.

Politics June 22, 2014: Reed and Heller to introduce new unemployment extension bill to Senate this week

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Reed and Heller to introduce new unemployment extension bill to Senate this week

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, June 22, 2014, 6:55 PM MST

Senators Jack Reed, D-RI and Dean Heller, R-NV intend to introduce to the Senate a new unemployment benefits extension bill this week, June 20, 2014; they are hoping this bill willl restore benefits to the over 3 million who have lost benefits
Senators Jack Reed, D-RI and Dean Heller, R-NV intend to introduce to the Senate a new unemployment benefits extension bill this week, June 20, 2014; they are hoping this bill willl restore benefits to the over 3 million who have lost benefits
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Politics June 19, 2014: Obama the lame duck has lost Americans’ confidence to lead in WSJ/NBC News poll

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Obama the lame duck has lost Americans’ confidence to lead in WSJ/NBC News poll

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, June 19, 2014, 2:18 PM MST

President Barack Obama has lost the confidence to lead and disapproval over his foreign policy is at record highs according to a new WSJ/NBC News poll, June 18, 2014
President Barack Obama has lost the confidence to lead and disapproval over his foreign policy is at record highs according to a new WSJ/NBC News poll, June 18, 2014
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Politics June 18, 2014: Cantor’s last words on primary loss as House leadership campaign in full steam

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Cantor’s last words on primary loss as House leadership campaign in full steam

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, June 18, 2014, 11:39 PM MST

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announces his resignation from his leadership position after his primary defeat the night before, June 11, 2014; the House will vote to replace Cantor as House Leader on Thursday, June 19, 2014
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announces his resignation from his leadership position after his primary defeat the night before, June 11, 2014; the House will vote to replace Cantor as House Leader on Thursday, June 19, 2014
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Politics June 16, 2014: Obama is now just as loved or not as Bush as favorable ratings hit new lows

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Obama is now just as loved or not as Bush as favorable ratings hit new lows

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, June 16, 2014, 6:38 AM MST

President Barack Obama is now seeing his favaorable ratings falling as much as his job performance approval rating according a new CNN and Gallup poll, June 12, 2014; Obama and George W. Bush now almost have the same ratings
President Barack Obama is now seeing his favaorable ratings falling as much as his job performance approval rating according a new CNN and Gallup poll, June 12, 2014; Obama and George W. Bush now almost have the same ratings
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Politics June 13, 2014: Levin launches Witness Wednesdays to pressure GOP to pass unemployment extension

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Levin launches Witness Wednesdays to pressure GOP to pass unemployment extension

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, June 13, 2014, 4:47 PM MST

Rep. Sander Levin launching the first of seven Witness Wendesdays events on the Capitol steps featuring personal stories of the long-term jobless affected by the EUC program's expiration, June 11, 2014
Rep. Sander Levin launching the first of seven Witness Wendesdays events on the Capitol steps featuring personal stories of the long-term jobless affected by the EUC program’s expiration, June 11, 2014
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Politics June 12, 2014: Heller wants Obama to be involved in unemployment benefits extension negotiations

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Heller wants Obama to be involved in unemployment benefits extension negotiations

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, June 12, 2014, 10:30 AM MST

Chief Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest tries to dodge questions about President Barack Obama's lack of involvement in negotiating with Congress over the unemployment benefits extension

Play
Chief Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest tries to dodge questions about President Barack Obama’s lack of involvement in negotiating with Congress over the unemployment benefits extension
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Politics June 11, 2014: Levin wants unemployment extension be added to tax extenders or highway bills

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Levin wants unemployment extension be added to tax extenders or highway bills

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, June 11, 2014, 5:14 AM MST

Rep. Sander Levin is urging the Senate, House and Speaker of the House John Boehner to pass an unemployment benefits extension in a new Roll Call article, either as a stand alone bill or as an ammendment to tax cuts extenders or highways bills, June 8, 20

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Rep. Sander Levin, D-MI the Ranking Democratic Member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives has taken to Congressional Quarterly’s Roll Call writing a commentary piece urging Congress especially the Republican majority in the House to pass an extension Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program. In the opinion piece published on June 8, 2014, Levin urged President Barack Obama, speaker of the House John Boehner, R-OH and Congress to work to find a way to extend unemployment benefits for America’s long-term jobless. Levin indicated that there were three options, pass a standalone unemployment benefits extension bill, are adding it as an amendment to the either the must pass business tax cuts extenders or highway bills.

Over 2.9 million long-term jobless Americans, unemployed for 27 weeks or more lost benefits over five months ago on Dec. 28, 2013, when the EUC program expired. In the five months there were two potential times time to renew the program the first bipartisan bill in the Senate failed in February when Republicans balked at it not providing revenue to pay for the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2014. The second bipartisan deal co-authored and sponsored by Senators Jack Reed, D-RI and Dean Heller, R-NV reached in March included revenue to cover the costs, extended the program retroactively, lasting for five months with a new end date of June 1, 2014. The bill passed in the Senate on Monday, April 7 after a series of procedural votes, and has languished at the committee stage in the House since.

Speaker Boehner refuses to put bill to a vote without job creation measures included, and he has continually asked the White House to provide him with a list if acceptable provisions. Boehner requests went with no actual response. The White House, President Obama, and Senate Majority Leader Reid consistently refuse to allow any provisions to be added to the bill that would have made it more attractive to the Republican House. The only direct response the speaker received from the Obama administration was from Secretary of Labor Perez, who sent a letter to Boehner on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Perez provided Boehner with a list of possible job creation provisions, which were all Obama and Democrat legislative priorities, and most would not appeal to Republicans. Although there was one exception, the jobs training bill.

Adding the unemployment benefits extension to the Senate’s jobs training bill “the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (PL 105-220),” would have been acceptable to Republicans, but the sponsors already refused to add it as an amendment. Some House Republican supported adding the extension to the House passed jobs training bill, HR 803 the “Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act” sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., but that never amounted to anything.

Boehner also considered the original bill “unworkable” because of the retroactive element. At the time of the Senate bill deal the EUC program had already been expired for nearly three months. The speaker had reservations about the states implementing retroactive benefits, believing they have not kept up verified the long-term jobless’ eligibility. Despite assurances from Secretary of Labor Perez implementation remained a road black. The obstacles have prevented the bill from ever reaching a vote in the House. The long-term jobless have been left hopeless since the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2014, technically expired on May 31, 2014, and the House of Representative did not put it to a vote before they went on a recess from May 30 until June 9. Technically they can still vote on the bill, but will probably not.

The Michigan representative has long been an advocate for extending benefits. Previously on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 Levin personally pressured Boehner to pass the Heller-Reed bill by sending him a letter that featured over 50 personal anecdotessubmitted and chosen to be included “describe how getting cut off of benefits has affected them.” The letter put a personal face on the Americans the House would be helping if they would pass the unemployment benefits extension.

In his new article Levin emphasized that the “long-term unemployment crisis” has been “made worse by the five-month expiration of federal unemployment benefits.” Levin argued that the long-term unemployment rate is still high enough to warrant the extended benefits, explaining that; “Our government has never terminated unemployment benefits when a full 35 percent of the unemployed have been out of work for six months or more.”

Nearly three million long-term jobless Americans, unemployed for more than 27 weeks desperately need the benefits to survive, and each week over keep 70,000 losing benefits. Although the total unemployment rate keeps falling each month, the long-term jobless rate in May remains high at 3.4 million or 34.6 percent of all unemployed Americans, just slightly lower than in April. The number is much lower than the April 2010 “peak” of 45.5 percent, but not as low as the short-term unemployed rate. The EUC program usually has been renewed as long as the long-term jobless rate is above 1.3 percent.

Rep. Levin is calling on President Obama, Speaker Boehner and Congress to pass a benefits extension for the “three million unemployed workers and their families,” “the economy,” and “the future of the workforce.” Levin went on to elaborate the effect not extending benefits will have on all three elements. Levin called the House not extending the program and putting the bill to a vote “cruel” to “hardworking Americans.” He then listed the ways the long-term jobless have been financially destroyed by the program expiring. Rep. Levin explained that they have “exhausted their savings, seen their homes foreclosed on, let bills go unpaid, and run out of money needed to just put gas in their cars to go on an interview.”

According to Levin the House Republicans’ spite in not passing the bill is “short-sighted” considering the long term affects and harm to the economy not extending benefits is causing. Levin recounted that “nearly $5 billion was pulled out of our economy during the first quarter of 2014 – money that would have been spent on food, clothes, gas and other essentials by the long-term unemployed.”

Levin also used the recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study to back up his claims on the economic ramifications, saying not extending the benefits “will cost our economy 200,000 jobs this year.” The CBO study determined that if the benefits would be extended for a year it would provide 0.2 growth to the economy, and even the five-month Senate extension would serve beneficial to the economy. If extended for a full year the CBO study concludes extending benefits would add 200,000 jobs and the program would cost $26 billion.

The problem remains that mostly older workers are the ones facing the long-term joblessness or as Levin describes “bearing the biggest burden.” Employers prefer younger workers with more technological skills, leaving older workers to the wayside. So while the economy has rebounded for the short-term unemployed the long-term are still facing unemployment. The longer a worker is unemployed the more difficult it is for them to find employment.

Levin indicated older workers already feel conscious because of their age, pointing out that “Older unemployed workers already tend to leave age related information off their resumes.” Levin found his data from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), which determined that “unemployed individuals 55 and over have been out of work for nearly a year.” Actually the situation became worst even as the economy was supposedly improving and unemployment rates falling.

Thirdly, Levin discussed the “future of the workforce” worried that the lack of benefits will discourage workers and they will drop out from the workforce, and stop actively looking for work. Levin believes that would be one of the “greatest threats our fragile economic recovery.” Levin believes that the long-term unemployed “will permanently leave the labor force,” without benefits “hurting the economy for years to come.”

Rep. Levin based this conclusion on a study conducted by Princeton University economics Professor Alan Krueger entitled “Are the Long-Term Unemployed on the Margins of the Labor Market?” Krueger previously was the “Chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and a Member of his Cabinet from November 2011 to August 2013.” According to the study “Even in good times, the long-term unemployed are on the margins of the labor market, with diminished job prospects and high labor force withdrawal rates, and as a result they exert little pressure on wage growth or inflation.” The study conducted with two other Princeton professors Judd Cramer, and David Cho for the Brookings Institute.

According to the study the make-up on the long-term unemployed consist of workers in minimum wage or near minimum wage jobs; “sales and service jobs (36 percent) and blue collar jobs (28 percent).” Additionally there are differences with educational background Krueger explains that the “unemployed are younger, less likely to be married, and less well-educated (about one third of employed workers have a bachelor’s degree, while less than 20 percent of the unemployed have one; nearly 20 percent of the unemployed lack a high school diploma – twice the rate for the employed).” Contradicting, Levin’s and most Democrats arguments, Krueger does not find the long-term jobless to be old-workers.

The Great Recession hit this particular group the hardest and a long-term unemployment grew the most “reaching 4.5 times its historical average, suggesting that long-term unemployment will be a lingering problem even if the unemployment rate returns to normal.” Levin uses Krueger’s point that the long-term jobless” become discouraged more quickly than the short-term unemployed and stop looking for work” as the main point for his argument in favor extending benefits. Levin explains “That’s why Dr. Krueger concludes that an underappreciated, but vital reason to extend unemployment benefits in the current economic environment is that it helps keep long-term unemployed workers actively looking for a job. Keeping them in the labor force can – in the long run – boost employment and the size of the economy.”

There is a fourth problem long-term unemployment is causing that Levin did not mention; it is that it also causes depression. According to a new Gallup poll published on Monday, June 10, 2014 20 percent of the long-term jobless Americans unemployed for a year “currently have or are being treated for depression.” In general 12.4 percent of the unemployed Americans are depressed while only 5.6 percent of working Americans are suffering and being treated for depressed, that number “jumps” up to 18 percent for the long-term jobless. According to Gallup “This marked drop in optimism may affect job seekers’ motivation, increasing the risk that they will drop out of the labor force altogether.” Gallup concludes that “Record-high rates of long-term unemployment remain one of the most devastating effects of the Great Recession in the U.S. The economic cost is huge — but just as tragic are signs of poor mental health among unemployed Americans.”

Michigan Rep. Levin believes that the unemployment benefits extension bill can be made to satisfy Speaker Boehner’s requirements. Levin asserted “Taking the speaker at his word, he made three prerequisites to supporting an extension of unemployment insurance. From this point forward, we can easily satisfy his demands.” Responding to Boehner’s first demand that “the extension to be paid for,” Levin argues that although “most economists agree that unemployment insurance is a stimulus because money flows right back into the economy” the Senate bill “included offsets.” As for the second demand the “states’ ability to implement the program retroactively,” Levin thinks that benefits can extended “through the end of the year” the retroactive element can be eliminated all the while “maintaining an individual’s weeks of eligibility.” The third element in Speaker Boehner’s demand is having the “unemployment benefits tied to job creation.”

Although the unemployment benefits extension bill’s authors Reed and Heller are currently working on a new stand-alone bill that will fits Boehner’s demands, they still do not believe it is possible for the Senate to add job creation methods. They consider that is something the House would have to do, and then resolved in conference negotiations with the Senate. Presently a new bill will cost $2 billion a week bill will be paid for by revenue, with a possible year extension or at least until the end of 2014, but would not be retroactive. They are currently looking to for enough Republicans supporters to sponsor it, to ensure passage in a new Senate vote. While Senate Majority Leader Reid already promised to put the completed bill to a Senate vote this summer.

The easiest way to ensure the bill’s passage however, would be adding it as an amendment to a popular bipartisan bill that Republicans in the Senate and the House usually support and vote for. The leading candidates are the business tax extenders bill “S.2260 – EXPIRE Act of 2014” and the Highway Trust Fund bill “S.2322: MAP-21 Reauthorization Act,” both which have always been renewed. Sen. Reed has already proposed adding a one year benefits extension as an amendment to the tax extenders bill. Rep. Levin also tends to agree believing tying the benefits extension to those two bills would satisfy the job creation element Boehner has looking for. To conclude Levin called passing the unemployment benefits extension with either popular and must-pass bill “a win-win solution” for Americans and Congress.

RELATED LINKS

  • S.2260 – EXPIRE Act of 2014, Sen. Wyden, Ron [D-OR] (Introduced 04/28/2014), 05/07/2014 Motion to proceed to consideration of measure made in Senate. S. Rept. 113-154

Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian & Israeli politics, with a particular focus on the Obama presidency, Congress, domestic policy, and elections.

Politics June 9, 2014: Obama to sign executive order lifting student loan debt load support Senate bill

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Obama to sign executive order lifting student loan debt load support Senate bill

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, June 9, 2014, 1:05 AM MST

President Barack Obama delivered his weekly address on college affordability, June 7, 2014; Obama supports the Senate refinance bill and plans to sign an executive order to ease the student debt load

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President Barack Obama delivered his weekly address on college affordability, June 7, 2014; Obama supports the Senate refinance bill and plans to sign an executive order to ease the student debt load
The White House

Politics June 9, 2014: New poll finds Obama less competent than both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush

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New poll finds Obama less competent than both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, June 9, 2014, 12:20 AM MST

President Barack Obama is considered by Americanas less competent than his predecessors Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush according to a new Fox News poll; June 4, 2014; it also gave Obama bad marks on the economy, health care, foreign policy
President Barack Obama is considered by Americanas less competent than his predecessors Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush according to a new Fox News poll; June 4, 2014; it also gave Obama bad marks on the economy, health care, foreign policy
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Politics June 6, 2014: Reid promises to put new unemployment benefits extension deal to a Senate vote

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Reid promises to put new unemployment benefits extension deal to a Senate vote

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, June 6, 2014, 5:48 AM MST

Senate Majority  Leader Harry Reid promises to put any new unemployment benefits extension bill to a vote when a deal is reached, June 5, 2014; the first Senate passed bill expired on May 31, 2014 without the House putting it to a vote
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promises to put any new unemployment benefits extension bill to a vote when a deal is reached, June 5, 2014; the first Senate passed bill expired on May 31, 2014 without the House putting it to a vote
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Politics June 5, 2014: Obama hits new approval ratings poll lows on foreign policy, economy, Benghazi

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Obama hits new approval ratings poll lows on foreign policy, economy, Benghazi

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, June 5, 2014, 11:59 PM MST

President Barack Obama's foreign policy approval rating has hit a new low according to a new ABC News / Washington Post poll, June 3, 2014; The poll does nit give the Democrats much good news for the midterm election either
President Barack Obama’s foreign policy approval rating has hit a new low according to a new ABC News / Washington Post poll, June 3, 2014; The poll does nit give the Democrats much good news for the midterm election either
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Politics June 2, 2014: House recesses as unemployment extension bill deadline passes, can still pass

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House recesses as unemployment extension bill deadline passes, can still pass

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, June 2, 2014, 1:40 AM MST

The House of Representatives went on a week recess without even putting the unemployment benefits extension bill to a vote, May 30, 2014; Speaker John Boehner could still pass the bill after the deadline
The House of Representatives went on a week recess without even putting the unemployment benefits extension bill to a vote, May 30, 2014; Speaker John Boehner could still pass the bill after the deadline
Alex Wong/Getty Images