Jobless benefits losses lie ahead
WASHINGTON — Hovering in the background of the “fiscal cliff” debate is the prospect of 2 million people losing their unemployment benefits four days after Christmas.
“This is the real cliff,” said U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. He's leading the effort to include another extension of benefits for the long-term unemployed in any deal to avert looming tax increases and huge spending cuts in January.
“Many of these people are struggling to pay mortgages, to provide education for their children,” Reed said as President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, rejected each other's opening offers for a deficit deal.
Emergency jobless benefits for about 2.1 million people out of work more than six months will cease Dec. 29, and 1 million more will lose them over the next three months if Congress fails to extend the assistance again.
Since the collapse of the economy in 2008, the government has poured $520 billion — an amount equal to about half of its annual deficit in recent years — into unemployment benefit extensions.
White House officials have assured Democrats that Obama is committed to extending them another year, at a cost of about $30 billion, as part of an agreement for sidestepping the fiscal cliff and reducing the size of annual increases in the federal debt.
“The White House has made it clear that it wants an extension,” said Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee.
Republicans have been relatively quiet on the issue lately. They demanded and won savings elsewhere to offset the cost of this year's extension, requiring the government to sell some of its broadcasting airwaves and making newly hired federal workers contribute more to their pensions.
Boehner did not include jobless benefits in his counteroffer response to Obama's call for $1.6 trillion in new taxes over the next decade, including raising the top marginal rates for the highest-paid 2 percent.
Long-term unemployment remains a persistent problem. About 5 million people have been out of work for six months or more, according to the Bureau of labor Statistics. That's about 40 percent of all unemployed workers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- About 6,000 drug inmates await early release from prison
- Fantasy sports websites draw Congress’ eye
- Michigan factory supervisor wins $310M Powerball prize
- Boston art lovers stage mock anti-Renoir protest
- Floods inundate Phoenix
- Number of deported lowest since 2006, AP finds
- Big firms park $2.1T offshore to avoid taxes, study claims
- Amtrak CEO says safety mandate threatens service outside Northeast corridor
- Oregon shooter a lonely youth with grudge against religion
- Passenger train derails in Vermont; 7 injured
- Top U.S. general wants more troops in Afghanistan