Senate Showdown Saturday: Tax Cut Votes on the Way


Congress Spars Over Unemployment Benefits, Tax Cuts

The president also pushed lawmakers Thursday to extend unemployment benefits.

"Our hope and expectation is that unemployment insurance is something that traditionally has had bipartisan support, is something that once again will be dealt with as part of a broader package," the president said following a meeting with newly elected governors.

Obama's Council of Economic Advisors on Thursday released a state-by-state breakdown on the economic ripple effect of letting long-term benefits expire.

If Congress doesn't extend the benefits, seven million unemployed Americans could lose coverage by next November, the report stated.

The report showed "the consequences that inaction on extending unemployment benefits would have on American families," a senior administration official said earlier today. "In December alone, more than two million Americans will lose the temporary support that helps them keep food on the table and make ends meet while they fight to find a job if Congress doesn't act."

The Labor Department estimates that federal unemployment benefits have kept 3 million Americans out of poverty during this financial crisis. But if they are not extended by Dec. 11, 635,000 unemployed Americans will lose their benefits. By Christmas that number will escalate to 1.6 million and then almost 2 million by New Year's Day. By the end of January, the agency expects about 3.25 million Americans will be cut off.

Most states fund at least 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, but the federal government has been offering an additional 73 weeks of help.

Congressional Republicans argue that the cost is too high and that lawmakers need to review other budget cuts and extending tax cuts before discussing the benefits.

Lawmakers are walking a tight rope because while the benefits extension would add considerably to the already burgeoning U.S. budget deficit, it would help the economy in the short-term by putting more money into the system, some economists say.

"The emergency unemployment insurance program puts $5-6 billion into the economy each and every month so you tote that up over a year that's $80 billion. That's a lot of money," said Moody's economist Mark Zandi.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...