Unemployment benefits expire, Dems vow to fight on
December 28th, 2013
01:52 PM ET
8 years 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. Gurgyl

    It is a GOP nasty garbage to put a dent on THIS PRESIDENT from 10 years down the road to tarnish Pres. Obama. Nothing more than this. This president is the best one I voted. I think we better Tax on the companies that go abroad, pass JOBS BILL.

    December 28, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  2. Gurgyl

    Rand Paul lives in a cave and missed the point that there are no jobs. When is Congress going to do something about that? Profit driven companies are going overseas for cheap labor and to get the benefit of paying no taxes if they keep their profits overseas. That, and having the wealthy pay more in taxes, is something Congress can fix. Giving more money to the insatiable military complex and NSA has to stop.

    We are sinking into a third world status. I worked in a third world country for two years where the wealthy had all the power and wealth. Journalists could be bought to publish anything. A beautiful library was built but it could lend no books. The roads were in horrible shape and there was no safe drinking water, except bottled. The only jobs were cook, gardner, driver and maid. Corruption was rampant. There was no functioning government.

    This GOP vision of our future is not acceptable.

    December 28, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  3. barryinlasvegas

    This is just another phony Dumbocrat wedge issue. The fact is 163 House Democrats voted for the Budget bill which did not include extending unemployment benefits. Liar Debbie was one of the yes votes.

    The two bimbos in the house – Nancy & Debbie knew this and so did every Senator who voted in favor of the budged. If they were people of principle they would have voted no.

    December 28, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  4. Steve, New York City

    Now this is something newsworthy and serious. While some of the long-term unemployed are too choosy or just not trying hard enough, others have tried very hard and are losing faith.

    This is a far worthier news issue than people constantly talking about stupid topics like the Kardashians, the Jersey Shore, the real housewives, those ignorant Duck Dynasty red-necks or other stupid, clueless people that have no place on tv. However, in all fairness to these programs, the very fact that they're famous speak to their success and to the massive dumbing down of our society.

    December 28, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  5. Obama - Liar of the Year

    Like most Democrats, Wasserman Schultz laid the blame for the expiring benefits squarely at the feet of congressional Republicans.

    And like most Democraps, she is a blatant liar. Democraps in the House and the Senate voted FOR this. Obama SIGNED IT INTO LAW. Without their votes and Obama's signature, it would not be the law of the land.

    What are all you lefties saying about Obamacare? Answer: It's the law.

    As usual, the lying Democraps do something and within weeks, deny they did it and blame others. I wonder why they aren't screaming about restoring veterans pension benefits? Heck, at least they EARNED the benefits!

    December 28, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  6. 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!!

    we have already spend over a quarter of a trillion dollars (thank you china!) on these extended federal unemployment benefits. that is enough. the democrats want to turn unemployment insurance into another welfare program. all to hide their failed left wing policies.

    December 28, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. Daithi O' Gliosain

    I have been out of work for 8 months aggressively pursuing employment opportunities, interviewing regularly, etc. With unemployment benefits being terminated this will create a hardship for my family. I am not relying on these benefits to put off seeking employment. My wife and kids expenses exceed our income. Congress is obligated to assist their tax payers in their hour of need. I have paid my taxes for 25 years not questioning how the federal/local government allocate their expenditures. This reality is perplexing and frankly very frustrating.

    I support our goverment and hope they will intervene and not use this unfortunate group for lobbying tactics by extending unemployment benefits to aid those allowing them to pay for some necessary expenses.

    December 28, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  8. UnemployedColo

    So, There seems to be some misconceptions out there about us, the 1.3M who are, as Senator Ryan put it "being held back" by unemployment...

    I'm 42, have a family and a Bachelors of Science degree (Which I still owe $50K on). I have 25 years of experience, have never been fired from a job (in fact, they throw goodbye parties and sometimes there are even tears) and I started taking unemployment only because my wife threatened divorce (because I HATED being on the US's dime). I have never been unemployed before, I always managed to find work somehow.

    I was laid off when my company downsized in February, they have since declared bankruptcy and gone under (As in: really, they didn't just lay me off as a nice way to get rid of me).

    Certainly for the first few months, I looked only for jobs in the $65K/yr range and in my field, then in April, I gave up on keeping my career and diversified, applying for jobs that I had done in my 20s or 30s, and had experience in but weren't in my career field. I dropped my rate to $40K/yr.

    By July I was really scared. Unemployment paid $1200 a month, and though we couldn't afford to do anything extra (movies, buy new clothes/toys, etc) at least we were paying our bills. So I started to apply for jobs that were ~$25K/yr.

    By September I was terrified. I started applying to Radio Shack, Barnes and Noble, anything. Technically unemployment was minimum wage, so I was willing to get that kind of job if I could.

    Now it's gone, so I guess I'm going to do something else... what? I have no idea. I started volunteering my time in September at a local company in hopes that they will hire me. They have not, yet... so I work 30 hrs/wk for free in hopes that they might someday...

    Since February, I have written 5,210 resumes, each one personalized to the job I'm applying for. Each one with a specifically written cover letter. I have had 8 interviews, only 4 in person (The others over the phone) and no call backs. I have 7 recruitment agencies working to find me a job, none have. I applied at all of the temp agencies in the metro area and have gone on exactly one temp job for 8 days in May.

    Here are some truths about the job market that perhaps people who are happily employed do not understand:

    1) No one sees potential employees in person anymore because of the volume of applicants. Now everything is processed by computer programs that decide who is the "best Match" and the rest are thrown out without so much as a "Thanks but no thanks" email. So if you have in the past gotten a job on your winning personality (As I have), it does nothing. Because I wouldn't go on unemployment in the past, I have been willing to work as a data manager, doing data entry, working as an IT manager, etc. So one of the things that is disqualifying my resume is that I have a "checkered past", as in: I haven't been in my field for all of those 25 years.

    2) I'm overqualified for a counter job at McDonalds/Radio Shack/Wherever. Note I have TRIED those, one fellow actually told me why I was being DQ'd: "You are worse than hiring a teenager, you could get a better job at any time and leave without warning, and we wouldn't blame you! But we also assume you'll be depressed here, and that's just not what we are looking for". A friend recommended I lie on the app, neglect to tell them what I did in my last job, but there are so many deadbeats that try for these jobs, they almost always check, and neglecting to tell them I was a manager at my last job is an instant Disqualification at best, fired at worst (Then I'd have a "Fired" on my resume, and we think it's hard to get a job NOW).

    I don't want pity, I don't even want to be on unemployment, what I want people to understand is that we aren't lazy. We aren't turning down that job because it didn't come with our own private jet. So far, I've NEVER been offered a job, not once. Not even McDonalds. So I'm not "turning down" ANYTHING. I haven't had a single interview in 6 months. It's clear that employers think I'm damaged goods now.

    Here is the result: Now that I'm off of unemployment, I'm going to give up on job hunting. Clearly I'm not hireable, and it feels like a waste of time to me (And I'm becoming very depressed as you would if you kept asking for work and getting dead silence). With no feedback I don't really know why I'm not hireable (Except why McDonalds won't hire me). So, I'm going to start my own business. With no capital or business experience, the odds are against me, but at least I'll know why I can't feed my family.

    Luckily for me, my ego and my sense of pride have been smashed so badly that I'm no longer against getting public assistance (As I was in the beginning). So food stamps and government assistance are no longer out of the question.

    That's the reality: Taking me off of Unemployment means I won't look for a job anymore, it's not an efficient use of my time. I should devote my time to some flight of fancy in hopes it'll work and take government assistance instead. Because from my point of view, I may only have a 5% chance of making it in my own business, but that's better than the 0% chance of getting a job.

    December 28, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  9. Fish

    Ironic that the ones who caused this situation are the first to vote not to renew benefits for those in desperate condition all because of Wall Street greed. Reinstate Glass-Steagall and unemployment won't need an extension because they will have jobs. People seem to understand that when Wall Street attacked Main Street that was the cause of our collapse and only restoring us to 1999 will be the remedy!!!

    December 28, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  10. Zolicon

    Unemployment benefits expire, Dems vow to fight on and as usual the Republican are block any extension.
    They will not be happy until everyone has to depend on foodstamps.

    December 28, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  11. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    The one trick pony GOP only agenda is to take away healthcare from the American people while their hospitals close and lay off workers in the GOP red southern states because of their refusal to accept the Medicare exspensionto their states so now their hospitals are closing . Nice move GOP , where are your citizens saposes to go, maybe to the smart states that excepted it. The GOP party of stupid voters??????

    December 28, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  12. Paul

    Democrats obviously LIED about the economy improving. If the economy was improving, we wouldn't need to extend unemployment.

    Our government should be able to identify the young, able-bodied- who have absolutely no business being on unemployment. They need to get a job or get 2 jobs, whatever it takes to support themselves.

    December 28, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  13. Nevada resident

    Well stated UnemployedColorado. I am in a similar situation in Nevada and I feel your frustration. I have also resorted to looking at somehow becoming self-employed due to the job situation here. Endeavor to persevere. Good luck to us all.

    December 28, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  14. ray lapan-love

    Unemployed colo,

    Millions of us have had similar experiences. In my case, I owned a small business that failed and so I was not eligible for unemployment insurance. In fact, we the 1099ers have been ignored from the start, in terms of benefits, and insofar as being counted as unemployed, and so... there are far more people vying for jobs than what is being admitted to. And of course many jobs that were typically of W2 status are now being done on a 1099 basis and so any comparison of unemployment rates over these past several decades is flawed.

    December 28, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. Areoth


    Well said.

    December 28, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  16. WeAreAlmostCyprus

    I do hope that none of these unemployed Democrats are forced into going out and actually getting a job... I mean, that would be terrible!!

    December 28, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  17. Randy, San Francisco

    The 1.3 million unemployed can't be all be Democrats, lazy young people, welfare cheats, or atheists? How do Republican Tea Partiers cope when their unemployment checks run out and they can't find a job?

    December 28, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  18. Hector Slagg

    As long as people go into the voting booth and vote against themselves this will be the result. 100 years of Liberal Politics and this is the result. What else could it be? Liberal's in Government tried to screw business, business moved offshore. Re-Inventing the Soviet Union is no answer. Rome wasn't built in a day. Most people want to help but tons of government regulations just kills jobs.

    December 28, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  19. Anonymous


    Sorry, your extensive writeup has a few holes that make me doubt your story.

    Could you please tell us how you could be sending out almost 16 personalized resumes each and every day of the week from Feb. 1st until today? Where did you find that many job openings? If there are 5,210 jobs you are applying for, then the problem is obviously your skills, your resume/cover letters or your job history. What have you done in terms of getting professional help? Recruiters, additional training, etc.

    Also, what is your degree in and what was your former position? You leave out very key pieces of information that would make your story more believable to me.

    December 28, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Wait... Obummer said the economy has receovered under his expert guidance. So why would we need to extend unemployment benefits (yet again)?

    99 weeks is more than enough, it has no turned into welfare for the perpetually lazy.

    Hey Bernie Sanders – that's hysterical!... A democRAT citing morality! ROFL!!

    December 28, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Daithi O' Gliosain: your govt DID take care of you.... now it's your turn to take care of yourself.

    December 28, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  22. rbockman

    wonder if they've considered getting a job

    December 28, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  23. hoopsvader

    Go to Texas or Okie State for any oil related jobs if your body can handle the physical demand.

    December 28, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  24. Marie MD

    For those of you asking where are the jobs why don't you ask the teaklans who ran on JOBS, JOBS, JOBS but all they have done is to try to repeal the ACA law almost 50 times.
    Maybe you can ask billionaires like the twit why he keeps sending jobs to China and other countries instead of keeping jobs in the US. Anyone been shopping lately for clothes? It runs the gamut from Honduras to Vietnam!

    December 28, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  25. BeenThereDoneThat

    @UnemployedColo: Hold your head high, young man. DON'T quit! Email your comment to EVERY Congressperson & the President!

    December 28, 2013 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
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