Unemployment benefits at stake in fiscal cliff deal

Jobless benefits for 2.1 million Americans are set to expire on Dec. 29 unless Washington can figure out a solution.

By Kim Peterson Dec 19, 2012 3:20PM
Image: Resume (Dynamic Graphics/age fotostock/age fotostock)Much of the fiscal cliff discussion focuses on the tax impact to wealthy Americans, but those at the other end of the economic spectrum could be hit as well.

Hanging on the fiscal cliff negotiations are extended jobless benefits for 2.1 million Americans, USA Today reports. Those benefits will expire on Dec. 29 unless Washington finds a way to renew them.

Congressional Democrats are demanding that those benefits for the long-term unemployed be renewed. "We have 2 million families that are in a very difficult situation if we do not extend unemployment insurance benefits," Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said in a press conference, according to The Huffington Post. "This is the real cliff." Republicans haven't said much about the issue, the Post reports.

In states with the highest unemployment rates, jobless folks can get a maximum 73 weeks of combined federal benefits. That's down from the previous limit of 99 weeks.

Many states provide another 26 weeks of unemployed benefits, paying about half of their lost wages. But those benefits will run out for about 930,000 people in early 2013, USA Today reports, citing figures from the National Employment Law Project.

"Congress needs to see its way to reauthorize this program so it doesn't lapse," Judy Conti, NELP's federal advocacy coordinator, told the newspaper. "It's the middle of winter, it's the only income some people have, it keeps their homes heated, roofs over their head, and it also allows them to feed their children."

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Dec 20, 2012 2:34PM
If you can live on UE for an indefinite period of time you're a better man than I am. A few years back, I was a contractor. My contract lapsed before I could find another and I ended  up out of work for 7 months. My unemployment was roughly 25% of my working wages. If I hadn't had the balance of an inheritance to subsidize what UE paid, I'd have lost everything. Unemployment benefits are an utter joke.

Dec 20, 2012 10:16AM
Let the cliff come. Stop the free ride. There are jobs out there, a lot of people just don't want to work when the government will pay them not to work.
Dec 20, 2012 10:38AM
"It's the middle of winter, it's the only income some people have, it keeps their homes heated, roofs over their head, and it also allows them to feed their children."

Sounds suspiciously like the exact same justification for welfare.  And you could make a pretty argument that UE benefits, especially long term UE benefits, are just another form of welfare.  Hey, maybe we can end welfare altogether and just put everyone who doesn't work on unemployment for the rest of their lives - that will make us all feel better.  Then, when we get sick of having too many people officially unemployed, we can move them off the UE rolls and give them all disability.
Dec 20, 2012 2:34PM

I feel sorry for any one with children , BUT there are lots of jobs if you really want to work. Just because you don't want to move or you just don't to work TOUGH.


Dec 19, 2012 5:12PM
Maybe if Obama wants that he should drop his tax increases?   If not he will have to deal with this ending...  It will be his fault...
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