Obama: Extend unemployment insurance
January 4th, 2014
09:16 AM ET
8 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. Name Derek says

    It's seems like we always help others country with there problem but when it comes to the American people they give us a hard time

    January 5, 2014 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  2. Bigdoglv

    Voted in by many Dems, signed into law by the pres, and its all the GOP's fault. Please, get real.

    January 5, 2014 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  3. Roger

    You buck passing SOB! You blame the GOP for going home for the CHRISTMAS holidays, yet you took your family to Hawaii for vacation on the backs of veteran's benefits and taxpayer's expense.

    January 5, 2014 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  4. ron

    Why the need to extend unemployment if Obama's claims of an improved economy are valid? Surely the U-6 real unemployment rate of 13 percent doesn't reveal ongoing economic problems? In any event, Obama will blame Republicans for his failures.

    January 5, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  5. Donna

    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.
    -–

    Yikes, another clueless leftie in here spewing lies. EMPLOYERS pay to fund the state unemploymet fund. Employees contribute NOTHING. These extended benefits are loans to the states that they will have to repay, with interest! You might want to educate yourself before posting.

    January 5, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  6. just saying

    so obama and the democrats were for cutting the unemployment before they were against cutting the unemployment. talk about playing politics with peoples lives. we are all just puppets at the end of their strings.

    January 5, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. Ralph Spyer

    Americans are unemployed because jobs have went to Mexico and China. Look at NAFTA since 1985 we have Imported more from Mexico than Exported that billion of dollars and millions of jobs . The Republicans did not give us this trade deal but Bill Clinton

    January 5, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  8. Anita

    If I could find a job or if someone would offer me one I would be more then glad to work But due to my age (52) and my career knowledge and people judging me on my age, race, and the fact that I had a career I will never get a job. The little bit of money we get here does not pay the bills and at this point I am about to lose my car that I worked so very hard for. Also you can't get food stamps if you are collecting unemployment so you have to chose from weather you want to eat or pay a bill

    January 5, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Mary

    It is fully paid politicians who get to decide our fate. Yes, I am an unemployed worker trying to get back to work. Why they get to decide if I should be able to remain in my home, pay my bills, etc while they have plenty on the plates to eat, heat their homes and go to sleep without the stress of having to fight for Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, is beyond me. Yes, I also vote...but it is obvious that politicians are self-absorbed and out of touch with the American people. If there were honest & compassionate politicians to vote for, wouldn't it be great to vote them in? By the way, to all of the people who think it is so easy to get a job: read up! For every job available I read there are ~2K workers applying for that job. So don't tell me there are plenty of jobs to go around. And that is just the people who are aware that said job is open. Imagine how many more would apply if they too knew of the opening(s). You can call me your "zero income neighbor."

    January 5, 2014 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  10. Meah

    Let's borrow more money to pay for the benefits. My children will cover the bill

    January 5, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  11. robert smith

    If you haven't found a job by now you're not trying. It may not be the job you want or pay what you would like, but there is work out there. People used to have pride in being self supportive. Now your an idiot if you work. Just imagine how much farther the money would go if people made what they could and were helped over the hump. Instead they are told to go sit on their butt and let someone else pay fore their everything.

    January 5, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  12. jim gordon

    27 trillion for wall street .. no problem

    wars in the middle easy no problem

    the american people? get spit upon ..its okay ..the repigs are just a dying breed ..this will be another nail in their coffin

    January 5, 2014 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  13. Name Irene in Cspe Coral Florida

    Now what does my family of 5 do now when we have no unemployment benifits we have nothing left we will be homeless in a few weeks please extend our lifeline please!!!!

    January 5, 2014 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  14. Name

    They always give us as Americans a hard time, but they go out of there way to help other Countries, Why you help your own Country first before you help others, If they provide us with jobs we will not need the Unemployment benefits

    January 5, 2014 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  15. Pam reinemann

    At this point in time those on unemployment need to realize their life has changed. The economy has permently changed as so must we.The unemployment benefits extension needs to end. People need to take responsibility for where their life is at this moment and make necessary changes to adjust. If it means you downsize there are gov programs to help with that. We are only prolonging the necessary changes need by continuing to extend the benefits. Holding on to a lifestyle that doesn't exist anymore is futile.

    January 5, 2014 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  16. Baltimore,Md

    It would've been different if we were told before hand ,not the day before it was cut . I don't want a hand out I need help getting from job interview to job interview. O yeah most of the jobs now days are temp jobs. Most companies use temp places it's cheaper for their company!!! So before ppl run there mouth do some reading!!! O if I pay taxes with my unemployment how's that hand out????

    January 5, 2014 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  17. Larry in Houston

    After reading these posts – if they don't extend those un-employment benefits, 1/2 of this country will be up in arms....Who do you think will be to blame ? Of course, the republicans, and they deserve the blame, as far as I'm concerned.....They should extend those benefits till something Major happens, regarding the Job front....The Businesses are currently sitting on their profits, and are gambling on a republican congress in November, AND are gambling on a Republican POTUS in 2016....LOL – Hate to be a bearer of bad tidings, but Government doesn't "create" Jobs.....The Last time the "government" "created" the largest amount of Jobs for the people in this country, was when the Hoover Dam was being built.....also the panama canal.....
    ever since Reagan fired those air traffic controllers, the Factories started moving away, overseas....and haven't stopped to this day, because the government at one time was giving the corporations & big business huge tax breaks, and at one time, they promised to lower the tariffs, when their products were shipped back to the USA...

    It will never be the same as it was in the 60's / 70's / 80's – as far as manufacturing in this country – The only people that will have any money & NOT struggle in this country will be Doctors / Lawyers / Professional Actors & Singers / Pro Sports people, and of course, Big Business – gone are the days of a modest 3 BR / 2 Bath house, a car in the carport, or if you're lucky enough to have a garage, for another old "beater" – it's becoming either you will be rich or poor, no middle class.

    January 5, 2014 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  18. Suzanne Van Gorder

    There is no work, where should we go and how do we afford to move when we own our house? How about the people who lost jobs in 2012 & r still trying to find work? What do u suggest?

    January 5, 2014 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
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