Obama: Extend unemployment insurance
January 4th, 2014
09:16 AM ET
7 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. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote out the Repub/tea bag majority

    @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."

    You heard it, all you children, elderly, student and disabled dependents of folks who receive unemployment benefits: The GOP/tea bags want you all to die.Hey, it's not our fault you happened to be dependent on people who lost their jobs!

    Pound sand, suckers!

    BTW, this is what Jesus would do ...

    *sarcasm*

    January 4, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  2. Marcus (from...?)

    Jeremy – just because he didn't wanted to have any other budget crisis, at least with this Republican-controlled House, doesn't means that he cannot dislike the deal and work to have it changed too, or are you saying that the Republicans aren't trying to do just that?

    January 4, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote out the Repub/tea bag majority

    GOP/tea bag economic policies are all PROVEN FAILURES.

    Show me ONE country in the history of the world that gained and maintained wide-spread prosperity due to cutting taxes for the rich (let alone during wartime, which is what Bush did), paying a minimum wage that does not put a person above the poverty line, offshoring domestic manufacturing and subsidizing industries that don't need it (I'm looking at you, oil companies).

    *crickets*

    January 4, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  4. Freedom of Speech

    Well a New Year but the same old hate.

    January 4, 2014 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  5. Grego

    So Obama is finally admitting that the recession isn't over. How quaint.

    January 4, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  6. Patriot85

    Rand Paul is ridiculous! Just another politician, what's new? Not extending unemployment benefits for those who have lost their jobs due to no fault of their own and haven't been able to get a job after 26 weeks, will not "make" them get any friggin job! It's easier said than done. It only can come out of from the mouth of some idiot who has never experienced economic hardship, who was born to a wealthy family, who has never lost a job with a family to support. OK, the guy next door who has been unemployed for 26 weeks and hasn't gotten a job, will now, finally, run out of his lifeline while looking for a job, since unemployment benefits was left to expired. What happens to you so disputed tax money, which could be used in part to "finance" the so needed unemployment help for your neighbor American? You (and I) will finally celebrate, as our dear tax money will be saved to "re-build" our nation. Yeah RIGHT! No, WRONG! Educate yourself, this is not going to happen. Do not allow that pretty boyish face Rand Paul and a couple of other smart guys deceive you into this. Here is. The guy who finally runs out of unemployment help before he could get a job, will be forced to apply (and be granted, due to his NO INCOME status) to all sorts of government help in order to survive and to help his family survive. This includes medical care, food, shelter, etc, etc...Where do you think that that money used to finance those come from? You ( and mine) pocket, our tax money. Also, the situation in this guy's life could trigger for him to NEVER really get a job, and you (and I) will end up paying for him and his family, FOREVER. Do you say that this helps re-building the country, do you say that this will save our country money? Think using your head, not clowns like Mr. Rand's and others' heads, do your own research, stop believing what others say. Be an intelligent person, not an empty egg shell, think! Ha, and other thing. These politicians are the same ones who allowed all our good (and not so good) jobs to be exported overseas. It is STILL HAPPENING! (watch your job, you could be the next guy fighting for your lifeline...). They have been doing so to fulfill their own political interests, do you think that they even care about you and I? People like Rand Paula and some others? Think again! Ha, and your tax money, that you are refusing so fiercely to a fellow American to be given to, will eventually be given to others as "aid" who never paid into our system or could care more about Americans, to others somewhere beyond our American borders. So why not have this money directed to those within our own country? It's a money that will be given back to our system, used to buy food, pay for shelter, pay for medical care, pay for gas, pay utilities, and other basic services. All of this will generate jobs in different sectors because businesses are doing well, instead of businesses closing as less people is buying. Did you know that a great amount of our hard worked tax money is being used to build big businesses overseas to create thousands and thousands of jobs there in nations that are starting to get more powerful than we are economically and who knows in which other form (use your head to think). So, my fellow Americans, great American brothers and sisters, instead of using so much effort fighting your own brothers and sisters, use it in defense of them and to fight instead all the laws allowing our jobs to be shipped overseas, which is, unfortunately, weakening not only our economy, but our people and our nation. May God Bless America.

    January 4, 2014 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  7. @RI_Roger

    Let's pay for it from the Department of Labor's Budget or the EPA or the DOJ or the Healthcare.gov website development fund or the Dept. of Education or Transportation or from the Democratic committee's re-election coffers....... but definitely not with any new taxes or fees.

    What ever happened to the Democrat "Pay For" principle....oh, it went the way of all other Obama empty promises.

    January 4, 2014 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  8. Tampa Tim

    Enough – Republican economics gave us the Great Depression, the Great Recession of 2008, and a loss of 8 million jobs in 2008. It is obvious that you struggles with reality,mso go back to Doocy for your talking points.

    January 4, 2014 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    The economy is great! We don't need jobless benifits!

    January 4, 2014 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  10. rs

    Hey Gunderfeld- Thanks for affirming the GOP position on their concern for the other 99%. Very sick.

    January 4, 2014 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  11. rodguy911

    Just more vote buying by the Dear Leader, Potus val/jar told him to ask for another endless extension.

    January 4, 2014 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  12. Evergreen

    It's past time to adopt China's economic policy: If you don't make it here, you can't sell it here. Bring back the jobs! @ Teach a man to fish...Its hard to fish when all the fish have been sold to China.

    January 4, 2014 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  13. Harry Balzak

    Obama, stop campaigning and got to work putting Americans back to work!

    January 4, 2014 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  14. mecambridge

    Too bad he isn't as concerned for the men and women he presides over as Commander in Chief when this same budget took from the pensions of the military, yet he keeps his mouth shut.

    January 4, 2014 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  15. Gunderson

    Excuse please, Old Gunderson already been thru 3 World Wars, two county Fairs and sheep shearing contest. The school of hard knocks it a tough teacher. Those that don't learn from History are bound to repeat it. You now seeing what the 1930's looked like. Your Liberal friends put big social policies in place so we wouldn't repeat the 1930's. Guess what. They didn't work. And we have the 17 Trillion Dollar Federal debt to prove it. The conservatives in congress don't want to raise the debt any further. Makes good sense to me. You??

    January 4, 2014 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  16. S. B. Stein

    The problem is that many of the jobs that were lost by people during the recession wouldn't have come back. The extension of UI benefits should also be done in conjunction with new job training programs. Local employers should be telling the community colleges what skills those that they are looking for need so that those schools can retrain the unemployed.

    January 4, 2014 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  17. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    @Gunderson
    Humm,
    After 5 years of blaming your predicessor why isn't unemployment down to 4 percent? Clue: Get rid of Obama Care and jobs will start to come back!

    What does Obama Care have to do with unemployment? My guess is that corporate outsourcing of jobs over seas is the real culprit. BTW, what happened to your ridiculous faux Swedish/Russian dialect?

    January 4, 2014 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  18. GOP = Greed Over People

    While some of you Fox Fable followers are completely unaware that 1 dollar of UI benefits returns 1.46 dollar to the economy, doesn't mean it isn't true, it just means you are a low information voter.

    January 4, 2014 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  19. maria rolon

    I think it is very cruel to cut the benefits a few days after Christmas. There are people that really need their benefits and have familes to feed and also bills have to be paid and everyday necessities. People are really looking for work even if it is the minimum pay.

    January 4, 2014 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  20. Sue

    Being on unemployment is 'a disincentive to looking for work'??? I look/apply, look/apply, LOOK/APPLY for work DAILY! Some times for hours on end. Application, after application, after application. You have to apply, and it has to be verifiable, for you to retain the ability to receive benefits. Unemployment is NOT welfare! I get no insurance, I get no food stamps, I take nothing other than my unemployment. We don't go out to dinner, nor do we go out to movies, we stay home, I cook from scratch, I buy marked down meat. I don't drive a new vehicle, it's a 2006, that I have had now for the last 2 years, when my 2000 car needed too many repairs for me to afford. I have been unemployed since July 1st, 2013, they closed our office June 30, 2013, so no fault of my own. I had worked there nearly 8 years. The job prior to that I was there about 6 years, they farmed our work overseas and closed our office, the job prior to that I was there nearly 23 years. After 2 mergers I was let go and replaced by 2 20somethings with less training. Prior to my current situation I had 18 months of unemployment in my life, 5 months between my 1st & 2nd jobs, and 13 months between my 2nd and current job. I have worked nearly my whole life. So now that I have a nearly 8 yr old car, and a house payment, I should just loose it all? I didn't ask to be unemployed, I don't WANT to be unemployed, I want to make my OWN money that I have worked hard for! But, employers are making that VERY difficult! Perspective employers could give a rats butt. They do NOT respond to your inquiries, no call, no email, no nothing...after you take the time to attach your resume, your cover letter, answer 250 of their 'evaluation' questions (25 basic questions asked 10 different ways to try to screw up your answers). I have gotten MAYBE 5 responses after the countless applications I have turned in...99% the position was filled internally, or so they say. I have a house, I am a single parent, one of my boys works 20 some hours a week @ $8.hr. the only 'perk' this kid has is a $30/month cell bill that HE pays and I have the same plan. I suppose I could give up my cell, the employers aren't calling anyway. I'm trying to sell my house and move back home...yes, at 58 I 'want' to move back home to help my 88 yr old widowed Mom who lives 500 miles away!But, I can't sell my house because the economy STINKS! And taking the unemployment benefits away from over 1 million people will definitely improve THAT situation when we can't buy food, gas, or pay our bills. THAT makes prefect sense!

    January 4, 2014 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  21. sonnie3

    Go ahead and reinstate it, But cut the benefit 5% per month and phase it out. It will give the free loaders time to get their act together. Really 99 weeks is just to long, but anyway this has to stop. It is better than working.

    January 4, 2014 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  22. The Truth

    He keeps giving the people money and give them no incentive to ever find a job again in their lifetime. As the old saying goes, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."

    January 5, 2014 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  23. IA

    Time to "fly or die".

    January 5, 2014 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  24. JCM777

    I really can not believe what I am reading, If you were born wealthy or are
    just too young to understand hardship then I would understand all of your
    ignorance,But since most of you are just normal people making a normal living
    how the hell can you be so narrow minded? I have read hundreds of comments by so
    called right wing republicans and I am shocked at the sheer lack of humanity,
    This goes beyond trying to sound inteligent in some forum like this. People will
    lose there HOMES! people will lose there FAMILIES! and people will lose all
    HOPE! I use to say these things as well "people should get up and work no hand
    outs I am sick of paying medicare and other expenses so a large group of people
    can exploit it" But the truth is simple If you support any action that can
    starve people to death and force people into the cold and children into others
    care, Then I am sorry but in my mind you do not deserve to live. Most of you are
    just one bad day away from being in same situation as the people your calling
    leaches. the rest are you are just completely stupid or heartless. Now most say
    "that could never happen to me I wouldnt allow it or I would just get a job"
    Sounds rational I agree but I bet a great % of the 1.3 million people who lost
    there benifits would have said the same thing just a few months ago.NOT AS
    AMERICANS BUT AS HUMANS WE NEED TO HELP FEED PEOPLE, NOT STARVE THEM. Does
    this really need to be explained? If you dont care then I truly hope that you
    find yourself on that unemployment line soon, Then lets see how smart you will
    try and sound on something like this ..... Some of you people really make me
    sick, But keep on about democrat this obama that republican this republican
    that the true point gets lost PEOPLE NEED HELP! and in addition you and I could easily be next to face something like this! Please think about what you are saying, Its not all politics and it is not all dollar and cents, This is your neighbors, your family, your friends,fellow countrymen etc ... Do not be sold on letting people starve This is a country that could afford to help the people who need it the most and the idea of sitting back and do nothing is nothing less than disgusting!

    I am ashamed of being an American right now.

    January 5, 2014 04:34 am at 4:34 am |
  25. John

    Seriously, it should be extended. And the current federal minimum wage should be adjusted so that it pays enough to get people out of poverty level wages. These are both sound economic ideals which both parties back when its popular and convenient for them. Tea bags are just fighting progress to fight progress .. Its time for that party to die a bad death.

    January 5, 2014 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
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