News / Economy

    Democrats Push to Restore Long-Term Unemployment Benefits

    FILE - Richard Mattos, 59, looks for jobs at state-run employment center in Salem, Oregon.
    FILE - Richard Mattos, 59, looks for jobs at state-run employment center in Salem, Oregon.
    VOA News
    Congressional Democrats and the Obama Administration are organizing a political campaign to restore financial benefits to more than a million Americans who have been out of work for more than six months.

    Modest unemployment benefits are customarily paid by U.S. states to people unemployed for up to 26 weeks. During difficult economic times, Washington may fund additional emergency benefits that continue for months longer.

    While overall unemployment has fallen to 7 percent, nearly four out of 10 jobless people have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer, a level Democrats call "unprecedented."

    The emergency program started during the recession recently expired, cutting benefits that typically run about $300 a week for 1.3 million people.

    Government economists say cutting this spending will cost another 200,000 people their jobs this year. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich says that is because cutting this spending cuts demand for goods, and that reduces the need for workers to create them.

    "They are critical to the rest of the economy," he said. "Their livelihoods and their spending is important for the rest of the economy to get out of the gravitational pull of the great recession."

    Reich is an economics professor who joined key Congressional Democrats in a briefing for journalists Friday in Washington.

    Many Republicans are skeptical of the program, which would cost $20 billion or more. House Speaker John Boehner has said he wants the cost of extending this program to be made up by cutting expenses somewhere else in the budget. Senator Rand Paul argues that unemployment benefits are a dis-incentive to find work.

    But former Labor Secretary Reich says the problem is a lack of jobs, not a lack of effort to find work.

    Senate Democrats say they will hold a preliminary procedural vote on a plan to restore benefits on Monday.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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    by: Sheila Poston from: Memphis
    January 07, 2014 5:06 PM
    I am disabled female American whom has recently been layed off due to lack of business. I need my unemployment benefits due to the fact that my medical problems which include, diabetes, hep c, and high blood pressure. Without this income I am unable to pay the co-pay to visit my doctors much less afford my prescriptions. You Republican senators need to come stay with me in my small apartment for just one week and see how the real Americans live. Be sure to bring a sleeping bag with you for warmth. We will eat ramen noodles three times a day. You force us to do without the slightest luxury while you rest in Ivory Towers and vacation in the Hammonds.

    by: Ian from: USA
    January 04, 2014 11:52 AM
    "Many Republicans are skeptical of the program, which would cost $20 billion or more. House Speaker John Boehner has said he wants the cost of extending this program to be made up by cutting expenses somewhere else in the budget. Senator Rand Paul argues that unemployment benefits are a dis-incentive to find work."
    Clearly some of us voted for & put these uncaring , un-americans congresspersons & senators into office ( the fact that they have cushioned jobs in DC makes them oblivious to the suffering of many Americans)
    -Congress want to increase the age for retirement benefit. Ask yourself, which company will hide any person who is older than 60 year old. How do the old applicants prove discrimination ! (Unless the government demand the companies to send all applicants' data to a central audit bureau so a computer can sort out discrimination trend)
    -In the best scenario that all the old peoples get jobs, then the young will have less openings available for them in a tight market .
    -with interest set at 0.1% the old , the unemployed can not even rely on the interest to buy food. Imagine 100,000 of saving in the bank will get you 100 dollar interest to spend. How many American families even have 10,000 dollar to earn 10 bucks.
    -how about take a 10% out of the 21 billions aid per years to various countries to feed our own peoples.

    for example in 2010

    -3 billions to Israel (3 billions for 8 million population first world country which could probably send aid to us )
    -1.6 billions to Pakistan
    -316 millions to Mexico (which hold 28 billions of us treasury bonds)
    -255 millions to Egypt (which hold 15 billions of us treasury bonds)
    -126 millions to India (which own 39 billions in us treasury bonds)
    -100 millions to Palestine
    -71 millions to Russia (which own 127 billions in us treasury bonds)
    -28 millions to China (and this is the top of the cake, this country who hold 1 trillions of us treasury bonds, which could clearly send money to us)
    -25 millions to Brazil
    oh by the way , we spent 100 billions in non military aid in Afghans so far .
    Make you wonder if congress still have America & Americans in their heart & mind

    by: Anne Fletcher Price from: Rhode Island
    January 04, 2014 9:40 AM
    I am a 75 year old tax paying citizen who worked through the recession and paid into Social Security. I was laid off last year with no severance pay, no vacation pay no bonus or back pay. My livelihood was ripped from me without notice. I have marketable skills and have diligently searched for a job. To continue to search for a job I need a place to live, gas for my car and a job to continue car payments. Congress needs to extend benefits for as long as 26 weeks. The job market for seniors is very difficult. The alternative, the state where I reside will have to subsidize my livelihood for the rest of my life. And with inherited longevity of life, that could mean 20 years. Question: Which is more cost effective: to subsidize my livelihood for the next 20 years or extend unemployment benefits for another 26 weeks?

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