Long-Term Jobless Benefits a 'Lifeline' That's Ending Saturday

"The longer that you're out of work, the harder it is to get job and they don't want to look at you if you've been out of work for six months to a year," Biscotti said. "I try and I try and I try and I try and I'm hopeful that I will eventually get something. It may not be what I want, but at this point I will take anything just to keep a roof over my head."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said he is open to extending benefits, but he wants the estimated $25 billion price tag paid for. Other Republicans, including Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., have spoken against extending long-term jobless benefits beyond what is already paid for by the states.

Paul told Fox News Sunday earlier this month "while it seems good, it actually does a disservice to the people you're trying to help."

"I do support unemployment benefits for the 26 weeks that they're paid for. If you extend it beyond that, you do a disservice to these workers," Paul said. "When you allow people to be on unemployment insurance for 99 weeks, you're causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy."

Biscotti's message to Congress is to "get back to work" and make extending benefits "first thing on their agenda." As for Paul's criticism of the program, she issued him a challenge.

"I don't think that's true, but if he's going to say that then come up with an idea how to get these people back to work, how to change unemployment in America," Biscotti said.

In the meantime, Democrats are increasing the pressure on the issue. At the president's final news conference of the year before he left for his Christmas vacation Dec. 20, he said of the lapsing of benefits, "I think we're a better country than that. We don't abandon each other when times are tough."

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Rep. Sandy Levin of Michigan, the highest ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, held a conference call this week demanding Congress extend the benefits as soon as they get back.

Levin called the expiration "like being hit by an economic hurricane."

Reed said Thursday, "This is not a program that people are leaving good jobs, or not looking for jobs because they are doing very well. From a human level, cutting certainly 1.3 million Americans' lifeline, and there will be more in this month, it doesn't make any sense and it's not something that we should be doing."

Reed and Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller have proposed a bill that would extend these benefits for three months without a cost offset.

"I certainly hope that all my colleagues will respond to these two basic facts -- one this is the fair and right thing to do for our constituents who worked hard and just want the chance to work hard again," Reed said. "And two, it's just the right thing to do for our economy."

The liberal group Americans United for Change is also out with a Christmas-themed television ad slamming Republicans for protecting the "richest one percent" and accuses the GOP of "stripp[ing] 1.3 million Americans of jobless benefits -- folks who want to work, but cannot find a job -- kicking them to the curb during Christmas."

"So to the 1.3 million Americans losing benefits, Merry Christmas from the GOP," the narrator says in the ad running on national cable. "It's wrong to leave more than a million Americans behind. Tell Republicans: Restore unemployment benefits now."

As for Biscotti, who baked cookies as Christmas gifts in order to save money, she is trying to be optimistic about 2014.

"It's hard to have hope, but I am hopeful that things will get better," Biscotti said. "It's only one year I know not everything will get better, but if they do something to help the long-term employment, then that will be a tremendous step forward to make things better for 2014."

ABC News' Alisa Wiersema contributed to this report.

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 21350376.
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...