A Real Black Friday for the Unemployed

House fails to pass extension of unemployment benefits just before the holidays

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House Democrats failed to pass an extension of unemployment benefits, meaning about 2 million jobless people will lose that income just before the holiday season. Republicans say they can't support such a measure if it's not paid for with unspent stimulus money.

The measure needed two-thirds of the House to pass, but 11 Democrats and all but 21 Republicans voted against it. Vice President Joe Biden called the vote a “giant mistake,” Politics Daily’s Tom Diemer reports, because those who get the cash are likely to spend it quickly, thus keeping the economy going. Congress will get another chance to pass the legislation after Thanksgiving.

  • Scrooge Wins This Year, Portfolio's Kent Hoover writes. "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’ll continue working on a short-term extension 'to get families through the holidays.'" Hoover writes, but if "Democrats want to get unemployment benefits extended, they better be ready to deal. Their days as the majority party in the House are dwindling down to a precious few, as the old song goes. ... The GOP is more concerned about people who create jobs, not lose them."
  • Seems Like a Test Vote, FireDogLake's David Dayen notes. "It was brought up quickly, without much warning, and put on the calendar in a day," Dayen writes. The vote tally "generally shows that the votes are there, with relative ease, for a three-month extension."
  • Mind-Boggling, Ezra Klein writes in The Washington Post. Letting these benefits expire "will kick out whatever meager financial security they've been able to cobble together, not to mention depriving the economy of some of the most stimulative spending we've got going. Unemployment insurance can't be allowed to expire, and the extension should be for longer than a few months. It should be until unemployment comes down to 7 or 6 percent." Dems need to figure out their priorities, Klein continues, and focus more on extending relief to the jobless than ending the Bush tax cuts.
  • The Economy Needs This, Think Progress's Pat Garofalo insists. Right now, "there are five unemployed persons for every job opening. There are so few job openings, in fact, that even if every open position in the country were filled, four out of five unemployed workers would still be out of work. ... Providing UI benefits is also the most stimulative step that the government can take, as they create nearly two dollars in economic activity for every dollar spent."
  • Reality Bites, Derek Thompson writes at The Atlantic. "In an ideal world, Congress would pass short-term stimulus and long-term deficit reduction. In a less ideal world, Congress would add short-term stimulus today, but leave long-term deficit reduction for the near future. In an even less ideal world, Congress wouldn't add stimulus but at least keep the stimulus we have today and push off long-term deficit reduction for some other year. But in the real world, we get neither. Congress votes against extending unemployment benefits for up to two million people without work, the most basic and obvious piece of welfare/stimulus, while it debates whether we should add $3 trillion to our long-term debt or merely $2 trillion plus change. It's the will of the people, or something?"
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