published Saturday, November 6th, 2010

GOP seeks cuts to pay for renewed jobless benefits

By ANDREW TAYLOR

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Newly empowered Republicans want spending cuts of $5 billion to $6 billion a month as a condition for extending emergency unemployment benefits that are scheduled to expire next month for millions of Americans.

Up to 2 million people could lose the benefits — which average $310 a month nationwide — during the holiday season if the still Democratic-controlled Congress doesn’t act in the postelection lame-duck session. The expiration could affect as many as 5 million by the end of February.

With new employment figures Friday showing 14 million Americans still out of work last month and an unemployment rate stuck at 9.6 percent, President Barack Obama renewed his call for another extension “to help those hardest hit by the downturn while generating more demand in the economy.”

But there’s no way that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP senators would support an extension unless they’re accompanied by equivalent spending cuts, McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said.

Every recession since 1950 has featured an extended federal benefits program financed with deficit dollars. That’s a precedent Democrats refused to break when battling with Republicans for months earlier this year to extend the program through Nov. 30.

Two Maine Republicans, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, broke with their party this summer to give Democrats the needed 60 votes to pass the most recent of several extensions, which adds more than $30 billion to the national debt.

But newly elected Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois will be taking over Obama’s old Senate seat sometime during the lame-duck session, giving McConnell one more vote to block a debt-financed extension.

The additional jobless benefits programs began in 2008 under President George W. Bush but were made more generous under last year’s economic recovery act. Jobless people are now eligible for up to 99 weeks of benefits in most states. The first 26 weeks of benefits are paid for by states. About 3.7 million are drawing them now.

Democrats argue that the extended benefits should be paid for with deficit spending because it injects money into the economy. Jobless people immediately spend the cash, they explain. But Republicans note that the government had to borrow 37 cents of every dollar it spent last year, and it’s time to draw the line

“Our friends on the other side simply refuse to pass a bill that does not add to the debt,” McConnell said in a debate on the last extension.

The topic is sure to come up at a Nov. 18 meeting among Obama and leaders of both parties in Congress — their first since the midterm elections in which Republicans won at least 60 seats and a majority in the House. They also grabbed six seats from Democrats in the Senate.

The lame-duck session that convenes Nov. 15 and, in all likelihood, again after Thanksgiving already has an overflowing plate of business. Most if not all legislation will have to be done on a consensus basis — at least in the Senate, where a single senator can gum up the works for days.

Aides to Senate conservatives such as Jim DeMint, R-S.C., say conservatives are unlikely to block an extension of the benefits — so long as they’re paid for.

Finding cuts, however, promises to be exceptionally difficult. In the past, Republicans have targeted unspent money from Obama’s $814 billion stimulus bill — an idea that’s likely to find resistance with Obama and Democrats.

Congressional aides say virtually no behind-the-scenes work has been undertaken to identify spending cuts that both sides could agree on. And many Democrats are still reject the idea that a benefits extension should be paid for with spending cuts.

“I’m not sure that’s where our caucus is right now,” said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

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Skeptic101 said...

To Harry Reid:

Do something!!!! Instead of saying things like “I’m not sure that’s where our caucus is right now", you should be saying "if you Republicans don't do the right thing now, we will stop every piece of legislation the House sends us next year", and then MEAN IT! Do you have any idea of how weak you sound? You have the power to shut the Repubs down. USE IT! If you can't immediately figure out what you and the other members of the Senate should be doing right now, then please get out of the way!

November 6, 2010 at 10:02 a.m.
OldTimer1933 said...

An open ended 'credit card' that obligates 'someone else' to make the payments has never been a real solution, but it seems that liberals ALWAYS think it will work.

So far in 2010 the INTEREST PAYMENTS ($414 Billion) on 'National Debt' exceed THE ENTIRE ANNUAL NATIONAL DEBT following World War II UP UNTIL JUNE 1971.

Essentially, the Federal government is borrowing money to pay the INTEREST on existing debt. In other words, 'government' is borrowing from TODAY'S INVESTORS in order to pay interest to PREVIOUS INVESTORS in addition to skimming some off for themselves for 'vote buying'.

When Bernie Madoff and others engaged in similar practices, 'government' called their activities 'Ponzi schemes' and FEDERAL CRIMES. In addition, 'government' even went after those who had 'profited' from the schemes.

At last, a lot of people have begun to take a critical look at several 'government operated schemes' and are beginning to wonder how we let them get away with it for so long.

While some folks may get hurt, sooner or later everyone will realize that 'something for nothing' and 'taking out much more money than one put in' are not plans that can be sustained very long, and that our 'leaders' have pushed us to the end of the pier and 'the sharks' are waiting for us to fall off.

We just can't afford to keep spending money we don't have, no matter how 'noble' the purpose might sound. My stars, if I am on the brink of foreclosure, is is smart to go to a loan shark to get money to give to someone I don't even know?

November 6, 2010 at 10:21 a.m.
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