Obama: Extend unemployment insurance
January 4th, 2014
09:16 AM ET
10 months ago

Obama: Extend unemployment insurance

(CNN) - President Barack Obama on Saturday called for bipartisan legislation to extend unemployment insurance, an all-important benefit for the longtime out-of-work.

"Just a few days after Christmas, more than 1 million of our fellow Americans lost a vital economic lifeline - the temporary insurance that helps folks make ends meet while they look for a job," Obama said in his weekly address.


"Republicans in Congress went home for the holidays and let that lifeline expire. And for many of their constituents who are unemployed through no fault of their own, that decision will leave them with no income at all."

The insurance expired last week when lawmakers failed to continue a 2008 recession-era federal law providing nearly a year of benefits, paid for by U.S. taxpayers, that kicked in when state jobless benefits ran out.

Congress will start the new year with an old fight: whether to extend jobless benefits for 1.3 million long-term unemployed. Obama urged lawmakers to restore the benefits.

"Right now, a bipartisan group in Congress is working on a three-month extension of unemployment insurance - and if they pass it, I will sign it. For decades, Republicans and Democrats put partisanship and ideology aside to offer some security for job-seekers, even when the unemployment rate was lower than it is today. Instead of punishing families who can least afford it, Republicans should make it their New Year's resolution to do the right thing, and restore this vital economic security for their constituents right now," Obama said.

Democrats argue the program is needed to sustain economic recovery and offer a lifeline to those struggling to keep their heads above water financially. Republicans counter the benefits are an economic drain and a disincentive to looking for work. The Congressional Budget Office estimates continuing them for another year will cost about $26 billion.

Many Republicans, including potential 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, have long insisted that the Great Recession-era extension of emergency federal benefits deters job hunting and is unnecessary as the economy rebounds and unemployment declines.

Obama said denial of the security provided by the benefits "is just plain cruel."

"We're a better country than that. We don't abandon our fellow Americans when times get tough - we keep the faith with them until they start that new job," he said.

"What's more, it actually slows down the economy for all of us. If folks can't pay their bills or buy the basics, like food and clothes, local businesses take a hit and hire fewer workers. That's why the independent Congressional Budget Office says that unless Congress restores this insurance, we'll feel a drag on our economic growth this year. And after our businesses created more than 2 million new jobs last year, that's a self-inflicted wound we don't need," Obama said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, plans to hold the first vote toward renewing the benefits on Monday, the day the Senate returns from its holiday recess. It will be a procedural test of a proposal to stretch the program another three months.

Democrats do not yet know whether they have enough Republican support to get the 60 votes necessary to clear the procedural hurdle, a senior leadership aide told CNN. The fight has played out repeatedly over the past few years as the two parties clashed in often dramatic showdowns rife with fiery rhetoric and lengthy filibusters.


Filed under: President Obama • unemployment
soundoff (93 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    The economy is in recovery and job and being created everyday. They may not pay big but they are a start. Time to get off the dole. Tell the unemployed to pound sand.

    January 4, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. Mike in Texas

    The fiscal year for a budget is from October 1 of the previous year – through September 30 of the following year. So the 2014 fiscal year is from 10/1/13 – 9/30/14. This is important to know because many try to lay blame of the 1.4 trillion dollar deficit in Fiscal Year 2009 on Obama when in fact much of the deficit was due to decrease tax revenue due to the economic collapse, TARP and ARRA. Only ARRA was enacted after Obama took office. The last three Republican Presidents all left office with higher annual deficits than when they took office. Clinton came in with a deficit and left with a surplus. Obama came in with a record deficit and the deficit for 2014 is projected to be half of what it was 5 years ago. Is the deficit still high? Absolutely but it's been lower for three straight years not. There has only been 6 surpluses since 1960. 3 of those were under Clinton, one was under Clinton/GWB FY 2001, One under LBJ/Nixon FY 1969 and one under Eishenhower 1960.

    January 4, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  3. rs

    Truth is: the GOP crashed the ambulance in '08, and they refuse to even try to help bring our nation back. They work daily to slow economic growth, and to stall the recovery (count their "jobs" bills- or anything that might have elevated the poor or middle class). They tried to crash the economy last year with their hostage-taking shut down, and they'll try to do it again. This is little better than domestic terrorism.
    The GOP lives to waste taxpayer dollars on wars, on tax cuts for people who don't need them, on their anti-government shutdowns and legislative brinkmanship, and incentives for an oil industry raking in record profits.
    The GOP has nothing for America- no ideas, no policies and no future.

    January 4, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  4. Gunderson

    Eh, Well,
    I once watched a Nature Program where a pair of Ospreys raised a couple of chicks. When those chicks reach maturity the Parents left the nest for good. Now those chicks either fly or die. Time for a lot of unemployed to fly or die. The House isn't going to keep raising the federal debt to pay for another give away program. Cut 26 Billion from some other program and maybe the House will pass an extended unemployment bill .Only problem with that is the "Dumbocrats" will be back in 3 months for another extension.

    January 4, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  5. Mike in Texas

    @ Jeremy,

    He signed the budget because he wasn't going to hold it up for this on issue. He did so to avoid another man made crisis like we had in October. Both sides gave up things they hold dear. Not every deal is going to be rosy for everyone.

    January 4, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  6. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote out the Repub/tea bag majority

    @Marcus: As Mike in Texas stated,

    He signed the budget because he wasn't going to hold it up for this on issue. He did so to avoid another man made crisis like we had in October. Both sides gave up things they hold dear. Not every deal is going to be rosy for everyone.

    January 4, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  7. Mike in Texas

    @ Gunderson,

    Cut oil subsidies, lower corporate tax rates and the capital gains tax rate by 10% of their current rate but eliminate ALL deductions. Future deductions can only be passed with 75% of the vote and have to be voted on as a stand alone bill. This will more than pay for unemployment benefits. Sure, guys like Romney will be have to pay an 18% tax rate since his money is mostly derived from capital gains but unless you're uber rich it would be hard to defend a rich person paying an 18% tax rate.

    January 4, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  8. rs

    Marcus
    The liberals dear leader is getting desperate. This didn't matter to him a couple of weeks ago so now when this has slim and no chance of passing he now is "standing up" for you little people...such a phony and a liar. I guess we can forgot about his 3rd term huh?
    ___________
    Never-mind the GOP's Christmas gift took effect on the 26th; ignore that the GOP has done nothing for the poor or middle classes in the last 6 year; or your delusion about term #3-
    Name one thing the GOP has done to improve America in say the last 4 years.

    January 4, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  9. Donna

    rs
    It doesn't matter to the GOP that the amount of funding needed for 3-months of extended unemployment coverage is imperceptible in the budget (and easily found elsewhere in the budget),
    -–

    And yet the Democrats and Obama have refused to find the money they want to pay out this never ending unemployment welfare. It is clear the Democrats and Obama want to further fundamentally transform this country when it comes to unemployment benefits. 26 weeks is no longer good enough for the far left socialists. They want to see 99 weeks be the new standard. After all, we can't be mean, mean, mean right? It's all about the emotion and nothing about the reality.

    January 4, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  10. Donna

    Year House Senate President
    -- --- --– ----
    2007 Dem. Dem. Rep.
    2008 Dem. Dem. Rep.
    2009 Dem. Dem. Dem.
    2010 Dem. Dem. Dem.
    2011 Rep. Dem. Dem.
    2012 Rep. Dem. Dem
    2013 Rep. Dem. Dem

    5/21 = 23.8%
    16/21 = 76.2%

    Let's toss some reality and facts in here. DEMOCRATS have controlled government now for SEVEN YEARS. They had total control for two years in which their major "accomplishment" was Obamacare, a massive government takeout of our healthcare system which the Aemerican people never asked for and still do not want. It was sold with what we now know were massive lies.

    Democrats controlled the entire Congress for FOUR YEARS, leading right into the recession and for two years after (and yet they blame Bush for the recession though he writes and passes no laws).

    So Democrats controlling Congress lead this country right into a recession and their failed policies have given us massive debt, deficits and still 4.5 years after the recession officially ended RECORD UNEMPLOYMENT, RECORD DEBT and RECORD DEFICITS.

    How many more years of this far left insanity can this country possibly take???

    January 4, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  11. Evergreen

    Federal unemployment extension benefits are in the form of loans to States who meet certain requirements. States will repay the loans as their economy recovers. Americans are geneous when it comes to sending aid to other countries or special tax breaks for corporations. But it makes them physically and mentally sick to even think about helping their fellow Americans.

    January 4, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  12. Smitty

    Have Barry O pay for it on credit with China like he does for his continuous vacations !!! Its sad to watch him fail daily.

    January 4, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  13. yolanda

    "Republicans in Congress went home for the holidays and let that lifeline expire...." Funny, i was under the impression that the Democrats went home for the holidays as well. Please Mr. Obama, try being the president of the country rather than the president of just the Democratic Party.

    January 4, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  14. Phyllis Gwendoline Williams

    Thanks Mr. President. I feel it although I am not one of them. Hope they will remember (2nd Thessalonians 3: 10)
    "if any would not work, neither should he eat"(Genesis 3: 19) "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread"
    and leave that to only those who cannot help themselves.

    January 4, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  15. Phyllis Gwendoline Williams

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Thanks Mr. President. I feel it although I am not one of them. Hope they will remember (2nd Thessalonians 3: 10)
    "if any would not work, neither should he eat"(Genesis 3: 19) "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread"
    and leave that to only those who cannot help themselves.

    January 4, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  16. Silence DoGood

    @gunderson "Time for a lot of unemployed to fly or die."
    'If they would rather die,' said Scrooge, 'they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

    I paid for a good part my unemployment insurance. If it pays out when I am laid off through no fault of my own, it is NOT a hand out.

    January 4, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  17. Silence DoGood

    @Mike in Texas
    Both sides gave up things they hold dear. Not every deal is going to be rosy for everyone.
    --------
    I don't think the radical right understands compromise and negotiation. They ostracize their own for not getting in lock step with the no-deal no-prisoners squash-Obama pledge.

    January 4, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. HenryMiller

    There wouldn't be any need to extend unemployment insurance if the disaster-in-chief would quit hammering businesses with insane taxes, regulations, Obamacare, and everything else that makes it too risky to grow a company or hire new people.

    January 4, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  19. HenryMiller

    "Time for a lot of unemployed to fly or die. "

    Precisely!

    January 4, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  20. stingerhp

    Yep, extend the leeches sucking power until they are no longer able to cash that check.. After all, its only money and yours to boot..

    January 4, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  21. Enough is Enough

    Extending unemployment creates jobs....right Tampa Tim....that kind of thinking is what got Obama elected.....Liberals amaze me......

    January 4, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  22. alaskan1st

    The Repubs broke it and now they refuse to let Obama possibly look good by helping him fix it. Conservatives are now willing to let Americans starve to death as witnessed by comments like Gunderson above. They would rather that happen than do one thing that would help Obama's legacy. Republicans have been the party of NO and their fringe hates America and Americans. Somehow they are living under this delusion that anyone who lost their job to outsourcing, is suddenly not worth helping. As if the working class is the enemy as soon as his job is lost.

    January 4, 2014 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  23. barryinlasvegas

    Why doesn't King Obama just do it through executive order like he does everything else. If he really cared he wouldn't have signed the bill unless it included this extension. Just like he doesn't give a damn about our Veterans and let them take the hit in their pension. The word phony doesn't begin to describe this jerk.

    January 4, 2014 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  24. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote out the Repub/tea bag majority

    @Rick McDaniel: The economy has improved – and there are still people who need unemployment benefits. Those dollars get immediately spent in the economy, which creates demand and stimulates production.

    Basic economics, Rick.

    January 4, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  25. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote out the Repub/tea bag majority

    @Thomas and all the other repub/tea bag posters: "Time to get off the dole."

    I'm assuming you are referring to the oil industry which receives multi-billion-dollar subsidies, even though they are enjoying record profits?

    Thought so...

    January 4, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
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