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GOP For Rich, Dems For Unemployed


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Washington, DC, United States (AHN) – Two million Americans are set to lose their insurance after jobless claims expire on Tuesday. Lawmakers returned from their Thanksgiving break on Monday without voting on extending them.

About 800,000 workers who have been searching for jobs for at least six months will spend the holidays without unemployment insurance, and 2 million by New Year’s Eve. Another 2 million will see their benefits expire by the end of February.

A bill extending unemployment insurance during the holidays failed in the House on Nov. 18 before Congress went on its Thanksgiving recess. Republicans blocked the measure, saying it would add to the deficit.

Lawmakers voted 258-154, short of the two-thirds required to pass the bill. All except 11 votes opposing the measure were from the GOP.

The bill introduced by Reps. Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Sander Levin (D-MI) temporarily extends benefits for three months until February 2011.

Republicans oppose the measure because it would increase the deficit by $12 billion, and add to the $13.795 trillion national debt.

The GOP also argues that some economists believe “prolonged unemployment benefits can theoretically increase unemployment duration by delaying individuals’ intensity to search for work.”

Unemployment nationwide remained 9.6 percent in October. In the long-term, 41 percent of jobless workers have been unemployed for at least six months.

“We are experiencing what can only be described as a jobs crisis, a sustained period of chronic unemployment; and two years of policies that have vastly increased the size and scope of government and added trillions to the debt and have done little to alleviate this problem,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in last week’s weekly Republican address.

Democrats, however, cite a study by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office saying unemployment benefits increase consumer demand and spending by returning $2 into the economy for every $1 invested.

The AFL-CIO has also stated that, “With five job hunters for every one opening, long-term jobless workers have nowhere else to turn.”

The last extension in July was passed after three attempts that were blocked by Republicans, which means the expiring benefits may still be extended through Democratic efforts in Congress’ lame-duck session during the remainder of the year.

But no vote has been scheduled for the extension, with many bills in the backlog, including an extension of tax cuts for the middle class that Republicans also want for high-income earners. Lawmakers also need to work on a dozen annual appropriations bills for the 2011 fiscal year. They passed a stopgap measure on their last day of session in September before the mid-term elections, temporarily funding government operations.

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