Unemployment benefits expire, Dems vow to fight on
December 28th, 2013
01:52 PM ET
7 months ago

Unemployment benefits expire, Dems vow to fight on

(CNN) - Long-term unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans expired Saturday after Congress failed to pass an extension. Reinstating those benefits is expected to be one of the first priorities for congressional Democrats in the new year.

“Extending unemployment insurance is the right thing to do for millions of Americans who are trying to support their families,” Democratic National Committee chairwoman and Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement Saturday. “What makes matters worse, the loss of benefits comes just a few days after the holidays.”

Like most Democrats, Wasserman Schultz laid the blame for the expiring benefits - now reverting back to 26 weeks of coverage - squarely at the feet of congressional Republicans.

Many Republicans have in turn argued that the extended emergency federal benefits - passed during the Great Recession - are a disincentive for job hunting and are no longer necessary as the economy improves and unemployment ticks down.

Rand Paul: Extending jobless benefits a 'disservice' to workers

Unemployment isn’t going down fast enough, say Democrats. They argue that without the extended benefits, recipients will severely curtail their spending and be a drag on the economy.

“As we continue our work to create more good paying jobs, it is essential that we extend unemployment benefits to the millions of American families who still need and rely on them,” Wasserman Schultz said.

President Barack Obama also weighed in Friday, according to the White House. In a phone call to Sens. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, and Dean Heller, R-Nevada, Obama voiced his own support for reinstating the prolonged unemployment benefits, the goal of a bill co-sponsored by the two men. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has pledged to take the benefits up as soon as the chamber returns from its break early next month.

Heller has been one of the few Republicans to vocally support extending the benefits – although House Speaker John Boehner has expressed some willingness to negotiate on the matter.

In a statement announcing his extension bill, Heller argued that “providing a safety net for those in need is one of the most important functions of the federal government.”

“As Nevada’s unemployment rate continues to top the charts nationwide, many families and individuals back home do not know how they are going to meet their basic needs,” Heller said.

A number of Democrats also took to Twitter on Saturday to argue for extending the benefits.

–CNNMoney's Emily Jane Fox, Annalyn Kurtz and Jennifer Liberto contributed to this report.


Filed under: Congress • unemployment
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. just saying

    welcome to the new leftist/progressive/socialist/communist/democrat economy. high debt, high unemployment, stagnant growth. democrats have done to the usa what the socialists did to europe. we are going to be royally screwed if the democrats stay in office and keep wrecking the economy and country.

    December 28, 2013 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  2. Maria

    So many American jobs have left overseas. We have to create new jobs. The Republicans have done nothing along with the hateful Tea Party but try and destroy President Obama. What have they done but fight his health care for all Americans 44 times spent repealing this law. Yes they care so much about you and your families working. Time to vote them out and create jobs like President Obama has done and will continue to do if allowed. When you get past the age of 50 lets see who will want you. This age group and older are having a difficult time finding jobs. Americans want to work and support their families. It's the Republicans and the Tea Party who want to keep giving to the 1% while the 99% suffer.

    December 28, 2013 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  3. RS

    Which is it libs?

    Are we in an Obama led recovery with new jobs or are we in an Obama led eternal non-recovery with no jobs?

    December 28, 2013 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Wasserman and her crew keep talking about "Good Paying Jobs" It might make it easier if the Dems told us all exactly what is a "Good Paying Job"? I really need to know since my union is up O's rear and I haven't see a pay increase in over 6 years now.

    December 28, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  5. employed

    While I am sympathetic towards those who are actively seeking employment, I can't help but think there are more than a few that use unemployment as a crutch. My mother told me when I was 16 to get a job. I thought bagging groceries was below me... until my vehicle was impounded (keys taken by mom). Her point was that having a job... any job, is better than not.

    December 28, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  6. Unemployed in New York

    If they take away our benefits after 26 weeks, then I want access to my 401k without penalty. I have money saved but it's all in retirement accounts that I can't touch. Ugh

    December 28, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  7. GOP = Greed Over People

    The House GOP wasted 24 BILLION on the temper tantrum government shut down, and some estimates are 26 billion to extend benefits to these folks for a year. I say pay them and call the score even, as the GOP can use their "credit" to balance the budget.

    Some of us were laid off in 2010, the 99 weeks allows us to keep our home out of foreclosure, and stretch our savings, far enough so we can take early SSN benefits at 62.

    Still no job, but still looking.

    December 28, 2013 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  8. rs

    The real problem with the GOP is an almost complete lack of compassion. They hate the poor, they hate the unemployed, they hate women, they hate immigrants (legal or otherwise), they hate minorities. Their priorities, their policies, their bills- whether to diminish voting or civill rights, worker's rights, or access to healthcare all indicate who the GOP does feel compassion for: the rich. Their hearts bleed whenever a rich person cannot squeeze a few more buck out of their workers, or commit a wee bit more white collar crime.
    Question: If the GOP isn't about working for and helping the majority of Americans, why are they seeking elective positions in government?

    December 28, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  9. carolyn walker

    Try finding a job when you are "60' y/o too old to hire but too young for SS..

    December 28, 2013 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  10. rs

    just asking
    maybe the democrats can explain to the american people why, 4.5 years after the recession ended, there are still far too many unemployed people that need these benefits? failed left wing anti-business policies? bingo!!
    ________________
    Well, how many jobs bills have hit Congress- I recall one for veterans that the GOP filibustered. Maybe there were more. The GOP got elected on "jobs, jobs, jobs"…. it just hasn't happened. We're better off though. 4 years of jobs growth, 8 million jobs in total. Certainly we're not losing 800,000 a month like when Mr. Obama got sworn in. Those are facts-and you know that.

    While we're calling for seminars on party platforms- maybe you can explain why 40 years of Republican "cut taxes and spend" hasn't improved things? It sure built a big debt, eh?

    December 28, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  11. GOP = Greed Over People

    Well said UnemployedColo. My experience was the same but my 30 years of IT was in COBOL!!! I was in TX for a year and moved to ATL 2 years ago in hopes of greener pastures but nada. Hang in there, I wish I could say it gets better, but I would not lie to you and I too had to use food stamps after the UI benefits ran out. Back to school to learn, JAVA, etc. was not an option, you think 42 is old in IT, try 59!;)

    No shame in food stamps or TANF if you qualify, and ignore all the arrogant employed pontificating about how we are some kind of sub human life form, we are at a point where we have hammered our own self-worth so low no one else can touch us!

    So, hug your family close and hold your head high! Believe it or not, it is worse going it alone!

    Good luck!

    December 28, 2013 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  12. GOP = Greed Over People

    P.S. UnemployedColo personal bankruptcy will stretch any 401K savings further and gets you back to the basic living expenses and therefore a lower cost of living, not fun, but corporations, who the SCOTUS deemed "people" do it every day!

    Again, good luck.

    December 28, 2013 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  13. BeenThereDoneThat

    @barryinlasvegas: Neither Party got ALL they wanted; it's a COMPROMISE budget. It was THAT bill or another GOP shutdown!

    December 28, 2013 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  14. Tom

    Anyone who calls these 1.3M people lazy has never been laid off or on unemployment before. It is no picnic. I went from making $80k a year to $408 a week on unemployment. My monthly debts are about $3,200 a month and I had to file Chapter 13 so I wouldn't lose my car. I was laid off in March with 95 other people from a major bank. I thought I'd find a job pretty easy so I didn't even bother applying for unemployment until June. I have applied for over 200 jobs this year, many of them are minimum wage. The over qualified issue is REAL and your age matters to about 50% of the people hiring. I am 60, have 2 teenage daughters and my wife passed away in 2009 from breast cancer. My girls make enough money for food and the water bill. If they don't extend this it won't be long before I lose the house and have to live in my SUV, if they don't take it first. I have no credit card debt. Just a student loan, my house and my car, and utilities. I guess we will qualify for food stamps now but I really didn't want to have to go there.

    December 28, 2013 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  15. JamesZ

    If I were getting tax free money to not work I I would NOT have any incentive to look for work. I'd ride it out as long as the feds were willing to keep paying me to do nothing. Who wouldn't? Most people don't get motivated until the time comes when they HAVE to get motivated. It's the way people are.

    December 28, 2013 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  16. rudolphfurtado

    The sad casualty of this case would be pets owned by the unemployed. Most pets would definitely be discarded to "Pet Shelters" or abandoned.

    December 28, 2013 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  17. GregL

    No one is motivated to look for work when they are getting tax free money. I would not have any motivation to get a job either if the feds were going to pay me to do nothing. Who wouldn't take that kind of deal? Most people don't get motivated until they HAVE to get motivated. That's just the way humans are

    December 28, 2013 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  18. rudolphfurtado

    The first casualty of this legislation would be pets owned by the unemployed. Most unemployed "Pet Owners" would abandon their pets in animal shelters as it would be expensive to maintain them.Sadly, most pets would be euthanized.

    December 28, 2013 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  19. ED1

    So what you are saying the Democrats didn't know anything about this if that's the case they should be fired.

    When you America wake up and get these out of control spending Democrats out of office all they want is for you to become dependent on the Government then they will have you by the short hairs and what will you do then nothing as always.

    December 28, 2013 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  20. No More Handouts

    I think unemployment benefits are too generous, and wasteful.

    Over the past 4-5 years, during and in the aftermath of the financial crisis, I have made many friends and relatives who have lost their jobs. For the most part, I have observed two patterns / types of people:

    - those who try very hard to find the next job, and succeed; unemployment benefit was useful, but short, and no extended unemployment was required,
    - those who used this opportunity as an extended vacation, and either did not find very hard to look for a job, or decided to start a business, but given the cushy, extended unemployment benefits, really milked it, to the tune of 52, and sometimes 104 weeks.

    I believe that extended unemployment benefit does not help anybody. Especially the unemployed. Let's stop this wasteful program.

    December 28, 2013 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  21. J.V.Hodgson

    GOP ( grand old party??) the party that's got religion, belief in god and charity and caring for the underprivileged or poor, or unemployed in this case. They are a bunch of GOP's ( Grumpy Old Pratt's) GOP ( Gone off Partying) for Xmas and new year with Turkey and all the trimmings and in effect denying 1.3m a last chance to t even consider afford, a 1lb pack of sliced turkey!!
    So just carry on being GOP"s ( Grand Ole Pontificator"S) spouting out the sad unrealistic rhetoric and doing nothing.
    Regards,
    Hodgson

    December 28, 2013 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  22. G Pugh

    As usual Dems deny their part in this, ( the signing of the budget bill). Having drawn unemployment before, I know that I would not accept any employment that paid less than the benefit until my unemployment was close to expiring.
    As for the estimated decrease in spending, those persons drawing the benefit have already decreased their spending.
    This is another complaint by Dems who use the benefit to purchase the electorate in their bid for re-election.
    All the nay saying by Dems not withstanding.

    December 28, 2013 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  23. Whatever1784

    Just asking,

    Why ask dens why so many unemployed? Have you forgotten the hobs jobs jobs they promised if elected and all the no no nos we the people have gotten from them since? Why are you not holding your own representatives accountable?

    Also, you might want to do some better research and improve your logic skills. It is statistically proven dems handle the economy better than cons. As if the last 30 years of trickleupreaganomcs has not been obvious enough that cons don't know what they're talking about when it comes to the economy.

    Writing what you did just shows what a loser you and your party are.

    December 29, 2013 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  24. NativeNewYorker

    Millions of Americans barely making it but Israel will still get its 3 Billion of our tax money. Something is definitely wrong in D.C.

    December 29, 2013 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  25. Whatever1784

    Just asking,

    And you might want to make sure there are enough jobs to go around before simply declariing enough is enough and cutting off benefits. We are talking about people's lives here, not some abstract theories.

    And you know we wouldn't have to borrow so much money from "China" if we had more tax money coming in from more JOBS! so many things could be much better if only your party would stop trying to lynch our first black president and actually uphold their main election promise.

    December 29, 2013 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
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