- Child killed, 4 injured in Idaho elementary school bus crash
- Obama downplays IRS scandal, blames Obamacare rollout on ‘outdated’ agencies
- Pregnancies decline overall, up among older women
- Pentagon plans to destroy Syrian chemical arms on ship at sea
- Paris Metro issues ‘politeness manual’ to improve passengers’ behavior
- Justin Bieber, crew detained at Australian airport in drug search
- Lee Rigby trial: Muslim who machete-hacked soldier calls it ‘humane’ kill
- GM ending Chevy sales in Europe to focus on Opel and Vauxhall
- Putin’s diplomats to U.S. busted for living high life off $1.5M bilked from Medicaid
- Happy Meal: Couple goes to McDonald’s, leaves with bag packed with cash
Jobless benefits expire as health debate rages
Day after day, Ann McGilly has been calling the Senate and begging to know why her unemployment benefits have expired. The answer she keeps getting: Sorry, but they’re busy right now fixing health care.
Hundreds of thousands of people ran out of unemployment benefits in September, and more than 1 million could have their benefits expire by the end of the year if Congress doesn’t act. Ms. McGilly, who began to cry as she talked with a reporter, said she can’t understand why the Senate is putting a health care bill that wouldn’t take effect for years ahead of immediate action for the unemployed.
“Please make these people understand that it’s cruel to make people wait like this for a health bill that may never come about,” said Ms. McGilly, a New Jersey resident who received her last unemployment check last week and said she no longer has money to pay for her 17-year-old son’s medication. “I signed for my final check, it was direct-deposited on Tuesday, all that money is going to my rent, and I don’t even have money to buy food.”
Complicating matters is a dispute in the Senate over exactly who should get the benefits. The House bill covers only the 27 states with unemployment rates higher than 8.5 percent - a move that House Democrats said helps make sure only those in need get the benefits.
“I know that some argue that unemployment insurance can be an incentive not to seek a job at all. But that argument doesn’t hold water for the workers who are the target of this bill - workers in the states with unemployment rates over 8.5 percent, the states in which an honest effort to find work is most likely to be frustrated,” Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said during floor debate.
Senate Democratic leaders are working on an alternative that also would offer four weeks of extended benefits for the states with lower rates, said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat.
Some senators want to go further. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire Democrat, has called for giving 17 weeks for the states with the highest unemployment rates and 13 weeks for the other states.
“It is our responsibility to our workers and to our economy to make sure that our nation’s unemployed can pay the mortgage and keep food on the table while they look for work,” she said in a statement Friday as the Labor Department announced that the national unemployment rate reached 9.8 percent in September. “With unemployment reaching record highs, four weeks of extended unemployment benefits simply won’t cut it.”
New Hampshire’s unemployment rate stood at 6.9 percent in August, the most recent reporting for states. The unemployment rate for Ms. McGilly’s home state of New Jersey was 9.7 percent, which means it would be among the states that would qualify under every proposal.
Mrs. Shaheen has proposed paying for her more generous benefits by dipping into the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Wall Street bailout package that Congress passed late last year. Mrs. Shaheen said that was only fair because the rest of the money is being used to bail out corporate executives.
The Finance Committee, mired in debate over health care reform, referred questions about timing to Mr. Reid’s office. But an aide said the panel also is working on a bill that would cover the unemployed across the country. The aide pointed to a hearing that committee Chairman Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, held last month highlighting the issue and said the members want passage “as soon as possible.”
Amid those disputes, the House bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim McDermott, Washington Democrat, is waiting. His office says 300,000 people exhausted their benefits in September, and by the end of the year more than 1 million will have run out of benefits if no extension is passed.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- Bipartisan House votes against 'patent trolls' who file lawsuits against innovators
- Bipartisan House votes to stop patent 'trolls'
- Medal of Honor case goes to 3rd defense secretary; Rep. Duncan Hunter says system broken
- John Boehner says blame for slow Congress lies with Democrats
Latest Blog Entries
Why such hatred toward America's freedom of religion?
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality: liberal group
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Hack attack: 2 million Facebook, Twitter passwords stolen
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
- Blast of winter weather heads to D.C. area
- GOP launches candidate training: How to talk to women
- Russian diplomats busted bilking $1.5 million from Medicaid
- CARSON: Getting to the top by starting at the bottom
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
Understanding economic events with a free market explanation
John Wood illustrates a new American politics, and the path to get there.
Interviews and show reviews from the Los Angeles punk scene past and present. Los Angeles has always been rich in punk rock talent since punk rock was born.
White House pets gone wild!